Hashimoto lifts his party’s ban on taking corporate contributions

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Bowing to pressure from those around him, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto announced Tuesday that the ban by Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) on accepting money from corporations and organizations has been lifted, apparently in consideration for new members, including Shintaro Ishihara.

“We had decided that the original members of Ishin no Kai should not accept funding from corporations or groups, but this became difficult when we merged with Ishihara’s Taiyo no To (Sunshine Party),” Hashimoto said.

Ishihara, the former governor of Tokyo, is the new leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai, while Hashimoto, its founder, is the No. 2 man.

Hashimoto said despite the new policy, the party will not allow unlimited funding and that it should soon establish an upper limit on contributions.

Timing also played a role in Hashimoto’s decision. The original idea was for candidates wishing to run under the Nippon Ishin no Kai banner to pay for their campaigns themselves with money raised at private fundraising parties.

Hashimoto and other Nippon Ishin no Kai leaders and advisors told potential candidates they would need at least ¥2 million, and possibly up to ¥10 million, to run in an election.

But that assumed there would be adequate time to raise the necessary funds before a Lower House election.

With less than a month to go until the Dec. 16 election, Nippon Ishin no Kai is still vetting candidates, and Hashimoto judged it would be impossible for them to hold enough parties in the time remaining to cover the cost of a campaign.

Ishihara and other Nippon Ishin no Kai members such as former Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) head Takeo Hiranuma have long received financial support from corporate lobby groups and other organizations.

Many within Hashimoto’s own party were also concerned that their candidates, who for the most part are inexperienced and unknown, would fail to raise the necessary funds, and pushed hard for the ban to be lifted.