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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 January 19 - 25  > What happened to DPJ promise on secret funds disclosure?
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2011 January 19 - 25 [POLITICS]

What happened to DPJ promise on secret funds disclosure?

January 20, 2011
Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio on January 17 said, “The Cabinet Secretariat’s secret funds are not something that can be easily made public, due to their original secretive nature.” The remark contradicts a promise his party made in its 2009 “manifesto” to fully disclose how tax money is used.

The Democratic Party of Japan, when it was still an opposition party, submitted to the Diet a bill to bring transparency to the use of confidential funds. After coming to power, the first DPJ prime minister, Hatoyama Yukio, reaffirmed the promise in the Diet that the government will check on all the secret expenditures of the Cabinet Secretariat and will fully release the information to the public after a certain period of time. However, Hatoyama soon toned down his argument. He said that the government will give itself one year to examine the use of secret funds and will try to make it as transparent as possible. Then, Kan Naoto took over as prime minister from Hatoyama and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito extended the period of inquiry for another year. Now, Sengoku’s successor Edano has again indefinitely postponed the party’s initial plan to look into the use of secret funds.

The secret funds have been used for wining and dining expenses or giving some politicians new suits as gifts in order to facilitate smooth Diet proceedings. Since the change of government, the DPJ has already spent 1.2 billion yen in secret funds.

Kamiwaki Hiroshi, professor at Kobe Gakuin University law school, commented, “The government doesn’t understand the spirit of the Constitution that guarantees the people ‘the right to know’ and of the Access to Government Information Act that imposes on the government the ‘obligation to explain its actions to the public’. The previous LDP-Komei government had inappropriately used public funds for its backroom politicking. The promise-breaking DPJ is following the very footsteps of the previous government.”

Japanese Communist Party Shiokawa Tetsuya (Lower House) commented, “The DPJ used to call for information disclosure of secret funds as one of its public promises. However, after achieving regime change, it broke its promise. The DPJ is also refusing to investigate into secret funds-related allegations involving the LDP-Komei government. The JCP Dietmembers group continues to work on the question of secret funds in coordination with civic movements in and outside the Diet.”

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