Bring political corruption and dirty money to light -- Akahata editorial, July 23

Investigators are broadening the scope of the investigation into the bribery scandals involving the Japan Dentists Federation (JDF), the political arm of the Japan Dental Association (JDA). New developments after the House of Councilors election include the revelation of embezzlement by former Liberal Democratic Party Lower House member Yoshida Yukihiro in collusion with former JDF chair Usuda Sadao (indicted on the charge of bribery in connection with a revision of remuneration for medical treatment), and 100 million yen funneled in an illegal donation to the LDP faction led by former Prime Minister Hashimoto Ryutaro. In order to prevent similar corruption from recurring, the truth of the matter must be established before the public.

What was the illegal donation for?

It has been revealed that former LDP lawmaker Yoshida Yukihiro received an enormous amount of money in political donations from the JDF. He reported that in 2001 and 2002, he had received 50 million yen in donations from the JDF. But Yoshida eventually returned 30 million yen to former JDF chair Usuda. The JDF chair misused the money to buy votes to secure his election as the JDA chair. Yoshida was arrested on suspicion of embezzlement in the course of business.

Yoshida allegedly made off-the-book money in conspiracy with Usuda before he lost his Diet seat in the 2003 House of Representatives general election. He has also come under suspicion of using 10 million yen of JDF money to bribe prefectural and city assembly members in his constituency in the last general election. This being a political crime, not only Yoshida himself but also the LDP must be held responsible for their participation in the briberies.

Serving as a major sponsor of the LDP, the JDF has established a cozy relationship with the LDP. Right before the 2001 House of Councilors election, JDF Usuda had dinner with former Prime Minister Hashimoto Ryutaro at a restaurant in Tokyo and gave him a check for 100 million yen.

What is more, this portion of donations was not included in the JDF political funds report or the report of Heiseiken, the Hashimoto faction's study group. It was only after the JDF office was searched by the Tokyo District Prosecutor's Office Special Investigation Department that it "corrected" the report. However, it must not be dismissed as a clerical error of "omission." It should reasonably be taken as a "false entry."

There is no legal upper limits to the amount of money a political action committee can donate to another one. Transferring one million yen in donations from one political action committee to another is not against the Political Funds Control Law. It is reported that Hashimoto Ryutaro, Aoki Mikio, and Nonaka Hiromu acknowledged receipt of the 100 million yen check, and the check was later cashed by the faction accounting manager. It is absurd to think that all these people concerned have no memory regarding the check. The apparently intentional omission of this large amount of money from the accounting books suggests that there were some shady reasons requiring secrecy. For what purpose was the 100 million yen donated and how was it used? This is what needs to be thoroughly made public.

No lessons learned from Kanemaru scandal

In 1992, it was revealed that Kanemaru Shin, LDP vice-president at the time, accepted 500 million yen in black money donations from cargo transport company Tokyo Sagawa Kyubin. The scandal gave rise to severe public criticisms and caused public distrust in politics. How can the LDP explain the same "mistake" being repeated?

The JDF headquarter and its prefectural branches distributed 2.7 billion yen to the LDP, the Komei Party, and the Democratic Party of Japan as well as affiliated lawmakers in the three years from the year 2000 (Source: political funds reports). Besides this, there seemed to be other donations not reported. Nine incumbent and former Dietmembers from the LDP Hashimoto and Horiuchi factions and the DPJ corrected their political fund balance sheets due to "omissions."

Political funds given and taken in secret and the control of politics with such black money mean that the donors and recipients are preying on national politics for their own interests, to the detriment of the people. Such politicking must be abolished. (end)

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