LDP will not accept contributions from banks, Abe decides

by Hiroko Nakata

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will not accept political donations from major banks, whose plans to resume contributions have drawn heavy criticism.

“I have judged as the prime minister that the LDP accepting political contributions from the major banks would not be tolerated by the public,” Abe said at a news conference after his government’s first Diet session ended.

Abe said he has instructed LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa to turn down money from banks.

Some major banks, because they have finally disposed of nonperforming loans and are starting to post significant profits, have said they are planning to resume political donations to the ruling party.

But critics say the banks should improve services and raise interest rates on savings accounts first, because their current good health is the result of public funds supplied by taxpayers. The banks also do not have to pay corporate tax for now because of the bad loans they booked in the past.

Also at the news conference, Abe reiterated his intention to revise the pacifist Constitution during his tenure, although he did not mention how long he expects his time in office to last.

“It would be a very hard task, and a historical task. But I hope I can accomplish it during my tenure,” Abe said. “I want to spark a national debate. I should listen to people’s voices and discuss the issue with other parties.”

Abe told foreign media in November that he aims to revise the Constitution, including the war-renouncing Article 9, because he believes it has become outdated over the 60 years since the end of the war.

He has long been an advocate of changing the Constitution.

As the first step of the revision, Abe said he aims to seek enactment of a law for a national referendum during the next ordinary Diet session, which is expected to run from January to June. Two-thirds of both houses of the Diet must approve any amendment, which would then have to be approved by a majority of voters in a national referendum.

The prime minister also said the government is currently studying which cases of collective actions are against the nation’s charter, which has long been interpreted to prohibit Japan from engaging in collective defense, otherwise known as coming to the military aid of an ally under armed attack.