1 million yen membership fee for 'association to make Kato Japan's prime minister'

In return for contracts for public works projects, local construction companies have paid over one million yen (7,400 dollars) as annual membership fees for the "Association to make Kato Koichi Japan's prime minister," Akahata reported on April 2.

This is another revelation of concession-hunting by Kato, House of Representatives member and former Liberal Democratic Party secretary general, who left the LDP to evade public criticism in connection with the arrest of his former secretary.

When he was at the leading LDP post, Kato attended the association's founding meeting in 1998 in Tsuruoka City in Northeast Japan, which belongs to the 4th Yamagata Prefectural constituency of the Lower House.

All 49 association members were local firms, most of which undertake public construction works projects. A similar association comprising 30 companies was also founded in the previous year in a neighboring area.

Each member paid at least one million yen as the annual fee through the bank to the account of the LDP branch headed by Kato in Kato's constituency.

A member of the association told Akahata that his company was paying the sum on the understanding that it is a requirement to get orders for public works projects.

Sato Saburo, former representative of Kato's office, orchestrated all these dealings. (end)