National

Izui tells Diet he gave 278 million yen to LDP lawmakers

Junichi Izui, an oil wholesaler now on trial for income tax evasion and fraud, said Friday in sworn testimony before the Lower House Budget Committee that he provided 278 million yen to lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, including LDP policy chief Taku Yamasaki.

Izui said he gave Yamasaki 200 million yen to be handed over to the late LDP faction chief Michio Watanabe, who served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister on three occasions between October 1991 and July 1993. Izui said he also gave funds to Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi and LDP executive council chief Yoshiro Mori.

Izui, 61, who has been released on bail, answered questions from the chairman of the committee and seven lawmakers from six parties for nearly three hours. Concerning the 100 million yen he provided to Yamasaki on Oct. 14, 1991, Izui said Yamasaki had asked for funds for Watanabe to spend on preparation for an LDP presidential election. “While we were having dinner, Yamasaki told me that about 300 million yen was needed for (Watanabe to run in) the presidential election. So I told him I could provide about 10 percent,” Izui told the committee.

In addition to the 200 million yen for Watanabe, Izui claimed he provided about 78 million yen to Yamasaki between July 1993 and August 1995. Izui said that when he handed over 12 million yen on August 1995, he suggested that Yamasaki share the money with his close allies — LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato and Health and Welfare Minister Junichiro Koiuzmi.

Yamasaki said Friday he will discuss the “political donations” made by Izui before the Lower House Council on Political Ethics. Yamasaki told a news conference that the money he received from Izui was dealt with properly under a law regulating political donations.

Shinshinto, the Democratic Party of Japan and the Taiyo Party, all in the opposition camp, want Yamasaki and Mitsubishi Oil’s former president, Kikuo Yamada, to be summoned to the Lower House Budget Committee. Izui, who is based in Osaka, is suspected of failing to declare part of the approximately 6 billion yen he allegedly received from Mitsubishi Oil Co. and spending large sums to buy political influence.

Izui also claimed that he provided about 100 million yen to Mori and 5 million yen to Obuchi by purchasing party tickets and entertaining them at expensive restaurants. He admitted providing funds to Mitsuzuka and eight other politicians, including members of the DPJ and the Social Democratic Party.

They include LDP member Katsutsugu Sekiya, a former posts and telecommunications minister, and Issei Inoue of the DPJ. “I placed importance on making personal connections,” Izui said, although he denied providing money with the expectation of favorable returns. Asked how Izui was able to make such large political donations, he said Mitsubishi Oil Co. provided him with most of the money.