• Crime & Courts

Prosecutors Begin Questioning Secretaries over LDP Funds Scandal

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Liberal Democratic Party’s headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—Japanese public prosecutors have begun questioning secretaries to member lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction on a voluntary basis over a political funds scandal, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyukai, the faction previously led by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is suspected of having created slush funds by returning part of sales of political fundraising party tickets to its lawmakers as kickbacks.

The special squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is investigating flows of funds and the details of how political funds reports were created at the faction, eyeing the possibility of establishing a case on suspicion of violating the political funds control law.

According to the sources, the Abe faction has set quotas for party ticket sales based on the positions of member lawmakers and the number of times they have been elected, and has continued to kick back the excess amount to them.

It is suspected that the excess amount was not recorded in the political funds reports of the faction and its member lawmakers and was used as slush funds.

The slush funds are seen to have totaled more than ¥100 million over the five years to 2022, in which the statute of limitations has not run out on the crime of failing to record necessary items or making false statements in political funds reports.

Shisuikai, an LDP faction led by former party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, is said to have used a similar scheme and failed to record as income the portions of revenue exceeding the party ticket sales quotas in its political funds reports.