Today: Thursday, 22 February 2024 year

The Japanese Parliament rejected a resolution on a vote of no confidence in the head of government.

A resolution on a vote of no confidence by Hirokazu Matsuno in the government secretary-general, the “right hand” of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, submitted to parliament by the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, was rejected by a majority vote. The broadcast is live on the official channel of the Lower House.

Matsuno found himself at the center of a scandal about concealing income from political meetings by Shinzo Abe’s largest faction, and then redistributing it to deputies in the form of kickbacks.

Matsuno was the general secretary of the Abe faction from September 2019 to October 2021 and could not have been unaware of what was happening. Over the past week and this week, journalists, taking advantage of the fact that he, as government speaker, gives daily press conferences, persistently asked him questions about the circumstances related to party funds, but he refused to answer at least 40 times. On Monday, when asked whether he planned to resign, Matsuno replied that he “intends to continue to fulfill his duties.” He is personally suspected of receiving kickbacks over 5 years in the amount of about 10 million yen (about 70 thousand dollars).

The scandal, which is gaining momentum in Japan and which will cost the portfolios of four ministers, 11 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 ex-Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and a major party functionary Toshiro None by the means 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.
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, unspecified amounts over 5 years turned out to be more than 500 million yen, 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, like 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 5 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 party’s top leadership were involved in the scandal – the head of the LDP political council and ex-Minister of Economy Koichi Hagiuda, LDP Secretary General in the House of Councilors and ex-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, deputies Yasutada Ono received more than 50 million yen (about 350 thousand dollars) over 5 years, Yoshitaka Ikeda and Yaichi Tanigawa each received 40 million yen (280 thousand dollars).

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to reshuffle the government and party leadership after the end of the parliamentary session on December 13. Four ministers, including Government Secretary General Hirokazu Matsuno, and 11 of their deputies are expected to leave their posts.