Faction formerly led by Japanese PM suspected of concealing revenues

MOSCOW, Dec 12: The faction of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that was previously led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is suspected of underreporting revenues from events designed to raise funds as part of a broader kickback scandal around the party, Sputnik quoted Japanese broadcaster NHK report on Monday.

The news outlet reported that the funds Kishida’s faction had allegedly concealed were likely to be smaller than those underreported by the factions of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and former LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai.

Japanese prosecutors have already started questioning LDP party members from Kishida’s faction on a voluntary basis, NHK reported.

To prevent bribery, Japanese law requires that the amount of money raised at fundraising events and names of donors be written in a reporting book, if the sum of funds collected at one event exceeds 200,000 yen (US$1,375).

However, five factions of the ruling party allegedly failed to reflect all the collected funds either in the income of the politicians or in its reporting book over the past five years. Moreover, if a politician collected an amount exceeding the established norm, they received the excess in the form of kickbacks. The total sum of kickbacks returned, in particular, to lawmakers of Abe’s faction allegedly exceeds 500 million yen.

The suspected concealment of funds is currently being investigated by a special department of the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office. Kishida, who stepped down as the leader of the LDP faction last week amid the kickback scandal, is expected to reshuffle the government and the ruling party’s leadership after the end of the parliamentary session on Dec 13. Four ministers, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, and 11 of their deputies are expected to leave their posts as a result.