A Democratic Party of Japan leader Seiji Maehara promised Wednesday he will produce more information about shady financial links between Livedoor Co. founder Takafumi Horie and a son of Tsutomu Takebe, the secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, but only if the ruling bloc agrees to launch an official Diet investigation.
Despite growing public calls for the DPJ to substantiate its allegation, Maehara repeated his party cannot reveal information that would identify the number and holder of a bank account allegedly controlled by Takebe’s son, to which the DPJ claims Horie ordered staff to transfer 30 million yen in August.
DPJ officials said the party fears the ruling LDP will not act on the information unless there is an official Diet probe, which is unlikely considering the ruling bloc’s majority, and thus veto strength, in the legislature.
If the DPJ fails to prove its allegation over the e-mail, it is likely the leadership, in particular Maehara, would come under fire from both inside and outside the party. Maehara could even be forced to step down, observers say.
During a one-on-one debate session in the Diet with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Maehara stressed that if there is nothing to hide, it should not be a problem for the Diet to enforce the right to investigate the allegations and bring the truth to light.
Maehara went on to say the DPJ cannot submit further evidence without a Diet promise to investigate.
Koizumi countered that the DPJ should present further evidence to support its allegations if it wants the Diet to consider taking action.
“(We) still don’t even know if the evidence is real or not,” Koizumi said. “(DPJ member Hisayasu) Nagata has been criticizing a certain person based on evidence that (we) do not know is fake or real.”
The DPJ has claimed that Horie sent an e-mail Aug. 26 ordering his staff to transfer 30 million yen to Takebe’s son.
During a House of Representatives Budget Committee session last week, Nagata read aloud what he claimed was a copy of the internal e-mail.
Takebe has denied the allegations, claiming he checked all of the accounts controlled by his son and affiliated companies and found no such transaction.
The DPJ’s own probe into the e-mail has been conducted by only a handful of executives, mostly Nagata, Maehara and Diet affairs chief Yoshihiko Noda.
Asked by reporters why he believes the e-mail is genuine, Nagata gave mainly two reasons last week: He highly trusts his source; and the source is “very scared” about being identified by revealing details of the e-mail.
“I myself have kept telling (voters) in my constituency that the e-mail is fake,” said a veteran DPJ lawmaker, who argued that Maehara should present a more convincing explanation of the party’s allegation to the public.
But because this is a matter raised by the DPJ, observers doubt that the Diet will vote to hold an investigation, even if the party reveals its information on the bank account.
The biggest hurdle for opposition parties is that the ruling bloc — the LDP and New Komeito — can veto an investigation.
“Whether the right (to call a probe) will be exercised will be determined by political power (in the Diet),” said Hiroki Inomata, a law professor at Meiji University.
The Diet by law can compel government officials, public servants and others to testify in or submit documents to the legislature.
But the law also allows those subpoenaed to refuse to testify to protect “privileged information” they obtain.
In 1994, then Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa and government officials repeatedly refused to provide documents concerning his borrowing and repaying a loan of 100 million yen from Sagawa Kyubin, a parcel-delivery firm.
At a meeting Wednesday of the Lower House Budget Committee, the DPJ offered to name the bank involved in the alleged 30 million yen transfer if the Diet opts to investigate.
The LDP rejected this proposal, saying the opposition must provide evidence to authenticate the e-mail and to prove that the recipient of the fund transfer is Takebe’s son. It also demanded detailed information on the banks involved.
The two sides failed to strike a compromise.