Hatoyama silent on funds probe

Charges loom over faked entries

by Jun Hongo

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama remained mum Tuesday on his ever-widening fundraising scandal, saying he trusts prosecutors to judge whether he is liable for any misconduct.

Prosecutors are reportedly preparing to file charges against a former Hatoyama aide for violating the Political Funds Control Law, including faking the sources of donations made to Hatoyama between 2005 and 2008.

Dismissed after the scandal broke over Hatoyama’s fund management body’s logging of fictitious donors, the former government-paid aide may be indicted without arrest, sources said.

“The issue has yet to receive a final decision, and I trust the prosecutors,” Hatoyama said.

Earlier reports said Hatoyama’s fund management body listed contributions made by deceased individuals and by people who deny ever making donations.

Asked if he might make a gesture of taking responsibility for the alleged shady practice, the prime minister said now isn’t the time to address that question.

Hatoyama’s aide allegedly faked the source of about ¥200 million in donations to the prime minister’s fund management body. In addition to listing deceased individuals, Hatoyama has indicated he may have exceeded the annual ¥10 million cap on politicians putting their own money into their funding management bodies.

Hatoyama has claimed that while it was his understanding his assets would be used to cover operating costs, funds in excess of the ¥10 million limit constituted a loan he would later be repaid.

The opposition camp, mainly members of the Liberal Democratic Party, has demanded that a Diet panel take up the scandal.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said Tuesday he wouldn’t comment on personal matters pertaining to the prime minister.

Hirano said the Diet Affairs Committee will decide whether Hatoyama will face questioning over the issue in the Diet.

Hatoyama has been strongly criticized by the LDP, which has called for a long extension of the current Diet session intensively discuss political money scandals. The ruling DPJ, however, has been reluctant to comply.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office has already questioned the secretary, who has not been identified, on a voluntary basis. Prosecutors are looking into what possible role Hatoyama played as well as that of the fund management body’s chief accountant before deciding their next action, the sources said.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported Tuesday evening that false entries in Hatoyama’s funding reports exceeded ¥300 million, quoting unnamed investigation sources.

“It is only natural that there is criticism (over the false entries), but it won’t shake the base of the (Hatoyama) government itself,” Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan said.

Information from Kyodo added