Millions from mom ‘lent’ to Hatoyama

Funding reports may have listed fictitious donors as the source

Kyodo News

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s mother “loaned” him around ¥900 million over five years to 2008 and some of the money may have been recorded as coming from fictitious donors in his political funding reports, sources said Wednesday.

They said the roughly ¥180 million per year over the five years were treated as loans, otherwise Hatoyama would have had to pay a huge gift tax if the money was merely given to him by his 87-year-old mother, Yasuko, the oldest daughter of Bridgestone Corp. founder Shojiro Ishibashi.

A secretary Hatoyama dismissed in June when he first became embroiled in a funds scandal is believed to have made a similar claim, about the funds constituting loans from the mother, during voluntary questioning with prosecutors. The ex-aide had been in charge of managing Hatoyama’s political funds.

If, on the other hand, the funds had been donated to his political fund management body, Yuai Seikei Konwakai, that would have violated the Political Funds Control Law, which limits donations from an individual to a politician to ¥1.5 million per year. Hatoyama is president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

“I’m wondering what was going on without me knowing about it and I’m very surprised by it all,” Hatoyama told reporters Wednesday. “I strongly hope the prosecutors’ investigation makes headway and reveals the truth.”

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office is probing to determine if more than ¥300 million was falsely declared in Hatoyama’s political fund reports, as it considers whether to indict the former state-paid secretary without arrest over the false statements. The aide has not been identified.

Yasuko Hatoyama is a major shareholder in the leading tire maker. Her assets are managed by the family’s private asset management firm, Rokko-shokai, in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

During questioning in the Diet recently, Hatoyama denied having received that much money from his mother, claiming, “I believe there was no such thing as far as I know,” while admitting the former aide had withdrawn about ¥50 million a year over the past six years from his account at Rokko-shokai.

According to Hatoyama’s political fund reports, his mother has donated ¥1.5 million every year from 2004 to 2008 to his fund management body.

The former secretary had been drawing cash from Rokko-shokai, as well as Hatoyama’s account there, following written directives issued by Hatoyama when his political funds ran short, according to the sources and prosecutors.

The prosecutors believe the political fund reports falsified at least ¥21.77 million in donations from about 90 individuals over four years to 2008, most of the roughly ¥180 million from “anonymous” donors over five years to 2008, and more than ¥100 million in revenues from his fundraising parties during the same period.

Hatoyama on June 30 admitted that the aide had falsely reported the ¥21.77 million as donations using the names of deceased people and others who denied making any contributions, and apologized. He said he has corrected the fund reports.