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Opposition policy chiefs calls for ban on corporate donations, debate on annual scandals

JIJI, Staff Report

Policy chiefs from the nation’s opposition parties on Sunday called for legislation to ban corporate donations after a bribery scandal prompted the resignation of economics minister and key Abe ally Akira Amari.

Goshi Hosono of the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition force, said on NHK that the DPJ plans to introduce a bill to prohibit political donations from businesses. The legislation, to be submitted jointly with Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party), would instead promote donations from individuals.

The Japanese political system has been rife with funding scandals for decades, and this problem must be discussed by all parties, Hosono stressed.

On Thursday, Amari acknowledged that he had accepted ¥1 million in cash from a worker at a Chiba-based construction firm but maintained the money had been properly reported in his political funds control report and denied having acted illegally.

He did, however, admit that one of his secretaries received ¥5 million from the contractor, ¥3 million of which was undeclared. The cash was used privately by the secretary, Amari said.

He also admitted that two of his secretaries had been wined and dined by the same employee who gave him the ¥1 million.

Scandals cannot be rooted out without destroying politico-bureaucratic collusion, Ishin’s Jiro Ono said.

Akira Koike of the Japanese Communist Party claimed that, by law, no company makes bona fide donations. Fundamentally, he said, all such donations are bribes.

But Itsunori Onodera, deputy policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, claimed that since the average Japanese is unaccustomed to making political donations, discussions are necessary from a broader perspective.

If corporate donations are banned, substitute measures for political parties should be considered, said Noritoshi Ishida of Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner.