• Crime & Courts

Prosecutors to Open Criminal Probe into LDP’s Abe Faction

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Tokyo District Public Prosecutor Office in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—Japanese public prosecutors apparently plan to open a criminal investigation shortly into a political funds scandal involving the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office will investigate the faction, once led by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for alleged violation of the political funds control law, the people said.

The Abe faction allegedly created slush funds by providing part of revenue from its fundraising parties to member lawmakers without reporting the money in political funds statements.

Secretaries of Abe faction lawmakers have told investigators from the public prosecutors’ office that they did not record such funds at the instruction of the faction, people familiar with the matter said.

The faction set sales quotas for fundraising party tickets depending on the number of times its member lawmakers were elected and their positions, distributing excess revenues to the lawmakers as kickbacks.

The excess amounts allegedly were not reported in political funds statements as expenses of the faction or as income by receiving members.

A majority of Abe faction members are believed to have received such slush funds, which are believed to total some ¥500 million between 2018 and 2022.

Investigators from the prosecutors’ office have so far questioned people related to the faction, including secretaries of member lawmakers, on a voluntary basis.

Another LDP faction, previously headed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, also reportedly failed to report fundraising party revenues, possibly totaling tens of millions of yen over five years through 2022.

The Kishida faction’s failure to report fundraising party revenues is believed to be unrelated to kickbacks to member lawmakers.