Today: Tuesday, 28 May 2024 year

The Japanese Prime Minister said he would dissolve his faction due to the scandal.

The Japanese Prime Minister said he would dissolve his faction due to the scandal.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Friday that he would dissolve the faction that he until recently chaired due to a financial scandal. On Thursday he said he was considering that possibility.

“I stated that in order to restore trust in politics, the Kochikai faction (Kishida faction) will be dissolved. But about other factions, I am not in a position to talk about it. People look askance and say that the faction is a place where money and positions can be obtained. To dispel these suspicions and restore trust, it is necessary to think about the rules of political organizations,” Kishida said.

A special department of the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office intends to open a case against a former accountant of the Kishida faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The case will be initiated under a simplified procedure, according to which the prosecutor’s office, without holding an in-person trial, can demand payment of a fine or compensation from the accused on the basis of written documents through a simplified judicial procedure. Charges could be filed as early as Friday.

We are talking about unspecified amounts in financial documents received from party meetings, totaling 30 million yen (200 thousand dollars at the current rate) for 2018-2020. At the same time, in 2021 and 2022, when a new accountant began working in the faction, no shortcomings were identified. Also, the Kishida faction did not practice the “kickback” system, when excess money received from party meetings was returned to deputies, but was not reflected either in their financial statements or in the documents of the faction. Kishida himself explains this by a “pile of errors” in the faction’s reporting.

Against this backdrop, Kishida said Thursday evening that he was considering disbanding the faction.

The problem of unreported income in financial documents also exists in other factions. In particular, as the prosecutor’s office found out, this was the fault of the largest faction in the LDP of ex-Prime Minister Abe, the amount of unspecified party funds in which for 5 years since 2018 exceeds 600 million yen (more than 4 million dollars). In this regard, charges may be brought against the faction’s accountant. Earlier it was also reported that a case could be brought against the accountant of the faction of the ex-general secretary of the party, Toshiro Nikai. We are talking about concealing the faction’s income in the amount of 200 million yen ($1.4 million) over five years. On Thursday it became known that summary charges could be brought against his secretary for the fact that income from political meetings over five years in the amount of 30 million yen ($200 thousand) was not received by his faction, but was not reflected in financial documents of the Nikaya political organization as receipts from the faction.

Earlier it was reported that the ruling party was also considering the option of dissolving the Abe faction in connection with the scandal.

A special unit of the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the concealment of funds received by factions of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party from fundraising meetings for the party involving its politicians. Tickets to these meetings are often purchased by representatives of large Japanese businesses. To ensure that the system does not turn into bribery of politicians or factions, according to the law, if the amount of the contribution 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 the largest faction of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe, the faction of Toshiro Nikaya, and even the faction of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida did not include all the money received in their financial statements.

Moreover, further investigation showed that if a politician collected an amount exceeding the established norm of 1 million yen (about 7 thousand dollars), 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, amounts amounting to tens of millions of yen, equivalent to hundreds of thousands of US dollars.

The scandal cost the posts of four ministers, several deputies and three members of the party leadership. A deputy from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Yoshitaka Ikeda, was arrested on suspicion of receiving kickbacks of party money amounting to about 48 million yen (about 331 thousand dollars).

The searches took place in the offices of the Abe and Nikaya factions, as well as in the offices of Deputy Ikeda.