Today: Tuesday, 5 March 2024 year

The head of the political council of Japan’s ruling party will resign.

The head of the political council of Japan’s ruling party will resign.

The head of the political council of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Koichi Hagiuda, will soon resign amid a scandal with the kickback system that existed in the party, NHK television channel reported.

The scandal, which is gaining momentum in Japan and which will cost the portfolios of four ministers and at least five of their deputies and several members of the party leadership, began with the discovery of discrepancies between what actually went into the accounts of the factions of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a major party functionary Toshiro Nikaya with the funds and amounts indicated in the financial statements. Further investigation, conducted by a special department of the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office, showed that the difference went into the pockets of the deputies and was also not reported by them as income. It became known that the faction of Prime Minister Kishida, which he hastily left last week, also sinned by concealing income, but in smaller amounts.

On Thursday, Kishida is expected to dismiss Secretary-General Hirokazu Matsuno, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura, Minister of National Affairs and Communications Junji Suzuki, Minister of Rural Forestry and Fisheries Ichiro Miyashita and at least five deputy ministers from among politicians – members of the faction of ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Earlier, Hagiuda said that if ministers are dismissed, then his responsibility as head of the political council of the party is great. Hagiuda is one of the prominent figures of the party; at different times he served as Minister of Economy and Minister of Science and Education.

A special unit of the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating the concealment of funds received by factions of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan from meetings to raise money for the party involving its politicians. Tickets to these meetings are often purchased by Japanese business representatives. To prevent the system from turning into bribery of politicians or factions, according to the law, if the amount collected in one evening exceeds 200 thousand yen (1.3 thousand dollars), then the names of the donors and the amounts must be entered in the reporting book.

However, it turned out that, for example, in the largest faction of ex-Prime Minister of Japan Abe, amounts of more than 500 million yen were unspecified over five years, which is at least about 3 million dollars. Further investigation revealed that if a politician collected more than the required amount, a “kickback” of the excess was returned to him. These amounts were also not indicated either in party documents or in the reports of the deputies themselves. In the Abe faction, at least several dozen people received such kickbacks, the amounts of which amount to tens of millions of yen, which corresponds to thousands of US dollars.

At the center of a scandal about receiving kickbacks from party funds was the Secretary General of the Government, Kishida’s “right hand” Hirokazu Matsuno. Matsuno, as well as Economics Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, as well as almost the entire party leadership, are suspected of receiving more than 10 million yen (about 69.4 thousand dollars) over the past five years in the form of kickbacks from party funds. In addition to Matsuno and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura, representatives of the top leadership of the party were involved in the scandal – the head of the LDP Political Council Koichi Hagiuda, the LDP Secretary General in the House of Councilors and the former Minister of Economy, who was responsible under Shinzo Abe and for economic relations with Russia, Hiroshige Seko, Chairman of the Committee for Cooperation with Parliament Tsuyoshi Takagi, former Minister for the Tokyo Olympics Seiko Hashimoto.

At the same time, the amounts of kickbacks differed markedly. Thus, among the deputies, Yasutada Ono received more than 50 million yen (about 350 thousand dollars) over five years, Yoshitaka Ikeda and Yaichi Tanigawa – each 40 million yen (280 thousand dollars).