Japanese political parties collected 151.8 billion yen in donations, fees and government subsidies in 1999, down 18.6 percent, or 34.7 billion yen, from the year before, the largest decline since the government began tracking the statistic in 1976.

According to the Home Affairs Ministry survey, which will be officially released today, the figure for 1999 was collected by a total of 4,251 political parties and other related organizations, including support groups for individual politicians.

By comparison, the 11 political parties in the Diet together with individual politicians spent 139.6 billion yen, down 21.2 percent from the previous year.

However, since the 1998 total includes funds received by now-defunct Shinshinto — which broke up in December 1997 and gave its funds to successor organizations — the numbers for 1999 represent a fall of just 10.4 percent from the year before if Shinshinto’s funds are excluded.

Political analysts attributed the decline in political donations from all sources, which fell 21.4 percent to about 39.89 billion yen, to the sluggish economy and the fact that there was no national election in 1999.

Political donations by companies and business organizations fell 5 percent in 1999 from the year before to 14.57 billion yen, the lowest since 1976, and represented 36.5 percent of donations from all sources, up from 30.2 percent in 1998.

Donations from individuals totaled about 7.11 billion yen, up 2.2 percent, while funds from political organizations rounded out the total, at approximately 18.21 billion yen.

In addition to political donations, political parties and individual politicians collected a record 13.39 billion yen through fundraisers last year, an increase of 11.2 percent from 1998 and accounting for 8.8 percent of the total, up from 6.5 percent in 1998.

These so-called “indirect donations” have been on the rise since 1995, after stronger restrictions were put on donations that companies and organizations make to political parties and support groups for individual politicians.

Income from membership and other fees charged by parties and related organizations fell 24.7 percent from a year earlier to about 13.67 billion yen, while income from businesses such as party newspapers declined 4.4 percent to 53.68 billion yen.

In addition, the government paid a total of 31.39 billion yen in subsidies to 10 political parties in 1999, accounting for 35.2 percent of their income, excluding funds from their branches. The Japanese Communist Party does not accept the subsidies.

By party, the JCP had the largest business income of the political parties at about 30.24 billion yen, down 610 million yen from last year, with most of it coming from its party paper, Shimbun Akahata.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party collected 25.02 billion yen in political funds in 1999, down 13.5 percent from the previous year, with 59.5 percent of the amount coming from government subsidies.

New Komeito, one of the coalition parties, garnered 16.94 billion yen, down 14.1 percent. More than 60 percent of that sum came from businesses such as its paper, the Komei Shimbun.

The Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition party, raised 8.45 billion yen, down some 1 billion yen from the previous year, with 82 percent of the total coming from government subsidies.

The SDP collected 3.87 billion yen, down 22.1 percent from the previous year, with 54.6 percent, coming from government subsidies.

The Liberal Party reported 3.21 billion yen, of which about 2.8 billion yen, or 87 percent, came from government subsidies. The party’s total income was almost half compared with the previous year.

Among individual politicians, Shizuka Kamei, chairman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, topped the list by raising some 675 million yen, followed by former LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato, who raised about 555 million yen.

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, collected roughly 291 million yen, placing him sixth on the list.

The figures only cover the finances of political parties, political groups and their fundraising organizations that have operations in two prefectures or more.

The political funds data for 1999 for parties with activities in only one prefecture, as well as for the municipal and prefectural branches of parties, will be released by the end of the year.

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