Upper House Committee Begins Deliberation on Revision of Political Funds Law; Tougher Penalties for Political Funds Violations Proposed

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The House of Councillors’ Special Committee on Political Reform holds a meeting at the Diet building on Monday.

The House of Councillors’ Special Committee on Political Reform began on Monday substantive deliberations on a bill submitted by the Liberal Democratic Party to revise the Political Funds Control Law in response to a series of political funds scandals involving its factions.

“This is a proposal that guarantees effectiveness through prevention of recurrence,” said LDP member Keisuke Suzuki, seeking understanding for the bill.

The bill proposes tougher penalties. Lawmakers would be required to create a document proving they checked political funds reports, and could be fined up to ¥500,000 in cases where their treasurers falsified the reports and their checks were insufficient.

“Lawmakers would no longer be able to use the excuse that they did not know and left the matter to their treasurer,” Suzuki stressed.

Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Hiroto Kumagai, however, questioned the effectiveness of such a document.

Kumagai pointed out that details on some of the issues, including the disclosure of how political activity funds are spent, are left as “items to be studied in the future” and noted as such in an additional clause of the bill.

“It’s all ‘items to be studied.’ I hope it’ll be clarified by the end of this year,” Kumagai said.

Suzuki only commented, “We must start studying them as soon as possible,” but insisted that the bill must be discussed from a neutral point of view.