LDP Lawmaker Yoshitaka Ikeda, Aide Arrested in Hidden Funds Scandal (Update 1)

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Yoshitaka Ikeda

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Public prosecutors arrested House of Representatives member Yoshitaka Ikeda and one of his secretaries on Sunday over a political funds scandal involving the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction.

Ikeda, a 57-year-old member of the faction once led by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the 45-year-old secretary, Kazuhiro Kakinuma, were arrested on suspicion of violating the Political Funds Control law.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office suspects Ikeda and Kakinuma, who is in charge of accounting for the lower house member, of conspiring to underreport the amount of funds provided by the faction by some ¥48 million in Ikeda’s 2018-2022 political funds statements.

Ikeda and Kakinuma became the first people to be arrested in the funds scandal involving the Abe faction, which allegedly created slush funds using part of fundraising party revenue. Investigators from the prosecutors’ office searched Ikeda’s offices on Dec. 27.

The faction set sales quotas for fundraising party tickets for member lawmakers according to the number of times they have been elected to parliament the Diet and their positions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Revenues in excess of the quotas were distributed to the lawmakers who sold the tickets. The kickbacks were suspected of not being reported in political funds statements of the faction or the recipient members, and were allegedly turned into slush funds, according to the people.

The total sum of such slush funds created by the faction may have reached about ¥500 million in the five years through 2022.

The amount of such slush funds that Ikeda received is believed to be especially large among members of the Abe faction.

On Dec. 8, the Ikeda side corrected his 2020-2022 funds statements. Donations from the faction increased by about ¥32 million in total, and about ¥16 million was added to the 2020 revenue as a carry-over from the previous year.

Ikeda was first elected to the Diet in 2012. The LDP expelled him on Sunday.