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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 May 23 - 29  > It is shameful of Prime Minister Abe to continue to defend corrupt politicians
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2007 May 23 - 29 [SCANDAL]

It is shameful of Prime Minister Abe to continue to defend corrupt politicians

May 24, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The issue of “politics and money” was taken up in the House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on May 23 amid growing public anger at misuses of tax money.

At issue was the suspicion that Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Matsuoka Toshikatsu and Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Ibuki Bunmei may have submitted false financial reports regarding their office expenses and utilities payments using loopholes the Political Funds Control Law.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo tried to do all he could to defend these cabinet members against the allegations about their misuse of tax money in order to evade public criticism, thus rejecting the demand that the allegations be thoroughly investigated. No Japanese prime minister in the past defended cabinet ministers in the midst of suspicions of corruption.

It is extraordinary that Matsuoka and Ibuki in their financial reports stated that their fund-management organizations paid tens of millions of yen a year for office expenses and utilities, although these organizations are not required to pay such costs because they are located in their Dietmembers’ Office Building.

They have used loopholes of the Political Funds Control Law that does not require political financial reports to be submitted with receipts of payments for office expenses. This has enabled them to cover up all suspicious spending items. It is quite likely that they have violated the Political Funds Control Law. They must be held accountable for all these suspicious reports.

Under the Political Funds Control Law, politicians submit their financial reports every year. They are required to keep original account books and receipts of payments.

It is now four months since Akahata reported on Matsuoka’s inappropriate use of tax money. He has only read reports from his staff about the problem of his office expenses; he has not checked the books by himself, showing his irresponsible attitude.

What is more, Prime Minister Abe continues to insist that his cabinet has no responsibility to check these cabinet members’ account books and other related documents. He is thus disclaiming even a minimum responsibility.

The prime minister is trying to evade a thorough investigation by proceeding with the debate aimed at amending the Political Funds Control Law on the grounds that similar inappropriate use of tax money has been found in the Democratic Party of Japan. However, the amendment bill proposed by the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties calls for controlling only fund-management organizations and submitting receipts of expenditures of 50,000 yen or more.

The bill enables politicians to hide any inappropriate expenditures from the public because they can report such expenditures as being related to the politician’s political action organizations rather than fund-management organizations.

The irresponsible uses of political funds that have been revealed in connection with “office expenses” are inseparable from the problem of huge amounts of corporate donations that ordinary are given to some political parties. No political parties or politicians incapable of putting an end to money politics are qualified to be in charge of national politics. - Akahata, May 24, 2007
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