Secret fund use just as LDP exited scrutinized

Kyodo News

Prosecutors will ask the Cabinet Office how ¥250 million in so-called secret funds it disbursed immediately before the change of power last September was used, investigative sources said Saturday.

The inquiry will be made in connection with a criminal complaint filed with the prosecutors in January by a civic group in Osaka against Takeo Kawamura, a Lower House member of the Liberal Democratic Party who was chief Cabinet secretary at the time of the disbursement, the sources said.

Investigative authorities have never before inquired about discretionary expenditures, which are supposedly used for collecting information and other unpublicized activities to ensure the smooth execution of policies, for which a chief Cabinet secretary is responsible.

The complaint alleges Kawamura demanded that the Cabinet Office approve the expenditure of ¥250 million and received the sum on Sept. 1, two days after the DPJ’s landslide victory over the LDP in the House of Representatives election.

By the time the DPJ assumed power on Sept. 16, Kawamura spent the money for illicit purposes, including giving some to fellow Diet members, and thus caused damage to state coffers, claims the civic group, which has urged the prosecutors to charge him with fraud and breach of trust.

Unless it is revealed how the money was spent, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office is unlikely to indict him, experts say.

The ¥250 million was an unusually large amount compared with an average ¥100 million spent by the government each month as discretionary funds.

The civic group members said it is obvious Kawamura spent the money for illicit purposes ahead of the then imminent change of power.