Slamming Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama as “the king of tax evasion in the Heisei Era,” the opposition camp Friday continued to attack the ruling Democratic Party of Japan over its recent political funds scandals.
“It is not right that (Hatoyama) is in the prime minister’s seat,” Liberal Democratic Party veteran Kaoru Yosano said during an intensive session of the Lower House Budget Committee. The LDP lawmaker pushed for the prime minister to step down, pointing to Hatoyama’s recent political funds mismanagement that included an unregistered ¥1.2 billion in donations from his tycoon heiress mother, Yasuko.
“If the same act were taken by a private person, they’d be looking at a year, maybe a couple of years, behind bars,” said Yosano, a former finance minister, adding that Hatoyama’s deferred payment of gift tax over the shady donation does not clear him of tax evasion accusations.
Hatoyama’s mother provided a monthly donation of ¥15 million to the prime minister’s fund management body for seven years through 2008, of which some were registered as funds from fake donors.
The prime minister paid ¥600 million in gift tax after the case came to light, and after his initial claim that the funds constituted loans was rejected, but his two former secretaries were indicted for alleged violation of the Political Funds Control Law.
While Hatoyama insisted he was simply unaware of his mother’s favors, Yosano quoted his LDP lawmaker younger brother, Kunio, who said Hatoyama asked their mother for the money. Hatoyama denied he ever made such a request, claiming his brother was fabricating the story.
The LDP has informed the DPJ of its plan to seek the summoning of the mother to give sworn testimony in the Diet.
Friday’s deliberations in the Diet, which opposition parties called “an intensive session on money and politics,” also touched on DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa’s alleged false reporting of political funds.
The case led to the indictments last week of DPJ lawmaker Tomohiro Ishikawa and another former aide to Ozawa, as well as a current secretary.
“It is an embarrassment to the world how secretaries of both the prime minister and Ozawa were arrested,” LDP lawmaker Masazumi Gotoda told the session, criticizing the DPJ for lacking “self-cleansing capabilities.”
Meanwhile, the LDP’s Yasufumi Tanahashi quoted a 2002 statement by Hatoyama in which he said that lawmakers are “coprincipals” of their secretaries and that one should be held liable for the misconduct of the other. Tanahashi criticized Hatoyama for his double standard, asking why he has shied away from reprimanding Ozawa.