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LDP draws flak over handling of scandal

By JIANG XUEQING in Tokyo | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-05-15 09:33

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito are facing growing pressure to provide details on revising the political funds control law amid public outcry over a slush fund scandal involving certain LDP factions.

The ruling coalition's proposal on the revision of the political funds control law did not specify the scope or method of disclosure for policy activity expenses nor the criteria for disclosing the information of ticket purchasers for party fundraising events, prompting opposition lawmakers to question their sincerity in revising the law.

The LDP has been under intense scrutiny following revelations that some of its factions had neglected to report portions of their income from fundraising events and created slush funds for their members.

Motohisa Furukawa, head of the Diet Affairs Committee of the Democratic Party for the People, or DPP, criticized the ruling parties' proposal. "It seems like a revision done just for show. It looks like an attempt to deceive," he said.

Katsuya Okada, secretary-general of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, or CDPJ, slammed the LDP's stance as a "completely inadequate pseudo-reform".

"It's meaningless unless expenses are disclosed in a way that receipts are provided and it's clear how the funds were used for activities. Otherwise, it becomes something that betrays the people," Okada said.

Depending on the LDP's response, the opposition may consider submitting a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's cabinet.

CDPJ President Kenta Izumi mentioned the potential for such a motion, based on an overall assessment of the LDP's stance, following the LDP's loss of all three seats in April's lower house by-elections.

Within Komeito, there is a growing consensus that discussions should be held between the ruling and opposition parties to create the amendment bill, especially on the handling of policy activity funds.

The CDPJ, DPP, Japan Innovation Party and Japanese Communist Party have agreed on three points regarding the revision of the Political Funds Control Act. These are the introduction of a joint responsibility system to clarify politicians' accountability, full disclosure of the usage of policy activity funds disbursed from political parties to lawmakers, and a ban on corporate and organizational donations.

A postal survey conducted earlier this year by The Asahi Shimbun newspaper showed public outrage. Some 79 percent of respondents said donations by companies and other organizations "should not be allowed because they might lead to interest-driven politics", far exceeding the 15 percent who agreed that "political activities should be free, so such donations should be allowed".

According to an opinion poll conducted by the Jiji Press news agency, public support for the LDP fell 2.4 percentage points to 15.3 percent in April.

During his first hearing on Friday at the Tokyo District Court, Junichiro Matsumoto, the official in charge of accounting for the former Shinzo Abe faction of the LDP, generally admitted to the charges against him.

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