Watanabe cash unaccounted for


Your Party said Thursday that about ¥90 million in questionable loans from a businessman to Yoshimi Watanabe, the former head of the opposition party, remain unaccounted for.

In an investigative report on the loan scandal, the party said some ¥500 million was transferred to a bank account of Watanabe’s wife as claimed by the former leader. About ¥465 million remained in the account as of earlier this month, it said.

But the party said it was unable to precisely specify how the ¥90 million was used. It asked Watanabe for a detailed explanation but he refused to comply and would only say it was used to cover the cost of meetings involving wining and dining, travel expenses and “purchases of goods,” the party said.

Of the ¥90 million, Watanabe reportedly used ¥55 million, and his wife ¥35 million.

Watanabe stepped down as chief of Your Party leader earlier this month over ¥800 million in loans from Yoshiaki Yoshida, chairman of cosmetics maker DHC Corp. Of the total, ¥300 million was borrowed in June 2010, before the Upper House election the following month, and ¥500 million in November 2011, before the Lower House poll in December the same year.

Watanabe didn’t book the loans in his political fund reports, raising suspicion he may have violated the Public Offices Election or Political Funds Control laws.

The investigation report said the party was unable to fully uncover the details of the loans.

Still, Your Party’s new leader, Keiichiro Asao, said the report is enough to prove Watanabe did not break either law. The party also found that Watanabe borrowed ¥615 million in loans from five other lenders.