Internal affairs minister admits fund report error

Kyodo News

Internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda, who is in charge of overseeing the fund reports of politicians and political parties, admitted Saturday that his own political fund management body failed to log a ¥1 million donation made in 2003, when he was governor of Iwate Prefecture.

“As the minister in charge of the political fund law, I have to take this very seriously,” Masuda said at an urgently convened news conference at the ministry. “This is a big mistake. I’m deeply ashamed because my supervision fell short.”

Masuda, who was installed as minister of internal affairs and communications by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the Aug. 27 Cabinet reshuffle, apologized for failing to book the donation and said he had already spoken about it with Abe.

“I want to fulfill my duty with clear explanations,” he said.

Masuda is the third Cabinet minister to be caught up in money troubles in the last two weeks. The latest spate of “errors” involves inaccurately recorded or amended payments listed in political fund reports and has triggered a flurry of amendments.

Each person targeted, however, has said the errors were unintended.

Masuda was governor of Iwate Prefecture for 12 years until he retired in April. Unlike most other Cabinet members, however, he is not a member of the Diet.

Masuda said at the news conference that he received ¥1 million as election campaign money on Feb. 28, 2003, from a political group called “Iwate 21-no-kai.” The receipt of the funds should have been issued in Masuda’s name, but was issued in the name of his fund management organization instead, with Masuda as its representative.

As a result, the support group reported that it donated ¥1 million to the fund management organization, but the organization’s report doesn’t have an entry showing that.

Masuda said the donation was recorded in a campaign fund report detailing his campaigning for the April 2003 election, which he won.

“The person in charge of election campaigns at that time was apparently mixed up as he was also in charge of the fund management organization’s clerical work,” he said.

Both the support group and the fund management body were disbanded in December 2006.

Masuda said the name on the receipt will be changed to reflect his individual name when it is corrected in a funding report to be submitted by his support group.

On Wednesday, Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita and state minister in charge of gender equality Yoko Kamikawa separately apologized for filing errant political fund reports.

Takehiko Endo, who was named farm minister on Aug. 27, resigned over a different money scandal just a week after the Cabinet reshuffle.