Lower House ranks' assets slip

Lawmakers declare average of 73 million yen in wealth

House of Representatives lawmakers declared an average of 73.22 million yen in personal assets as of June, down from 87.05 million yen in their last asset reports in March 1997, according to calculations by Kyodo News.

Kyodo made the calculations based on personal wealth reports by individual Lower House members that were available to the media before they were made public Monday.

Takashi Sasagawa, a Liberal Democratic Party member elected from Gunma Prefecture, topped the list with personal assets of about 2.71 billion yen, with 2 billion yen in bank deposits and postal savings, the reports say.

Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, ranked second at some 2.37 billion yen, while Foreign Minister Yohei Kono of the LDP was third with 1.53 billion yen.

LDP member Makiko Tanaka, daughter of the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, placed 21st on the list with 330.5 million yen and was the largest asset holder among female members of the powerful lower chamber.

Most of the top 10 asset holders are sons of former Diet members. When excluding those second- or third-generation politicians, Kazuna Matsumoto, president of the drug store chain Matsumotokiyoshi Co., ranked at the top. Matsumoto, an LDP member, placed eighth in all.

The data, made public by a law requiring Diet members to disclose their assets, cover 479 Lower House members elected or re-elected in the June 25 general election, all members of the chamber except Joji Yamamoto, a former DPJ member who resigned in September after being arrested for fraud.

The assets comprise mostly land and real estate holdings, bank deposits and postal savings, and stocks.

Analysts say the average shrank because 10 out of the top 30 asset holders in the last survey retired or failed to win re-election and also because fixed assets were reappraised downward.

The reports said 68 lawmakers held assets of more than 100 million yen, of whom six declared more than 1 billion yen.

Former Justice Minister Shozaburo Nakamura, who topped the list in the last survey, ranked fourth at about 1.5 billion yen. Former Education Minister Kunio Hatoyama, younger brother of Yukio Hatoyama, came fifth at some 1.33 billion yen. Both belong to the LDP, the dominant force in the three-party ruling coalition with New Komeito and the New Conservative Party.

The reports also showed that the Lower House members took out loans averaging 38.57 million yen, down some 6 million yen from the previous report.

By asset category, landholdings by lower chamber members accounted for an average 35.03 million yen of personal wealth, down some 8.2 million yen from the previous survey.

Buildings accounted for 12.01 million yen of personal wealth, fixed deposits 20.42 million yen and stocks 5.75 million yen.

Twelve out of the 479 members reported having no land, real estate or financial properties. Of these, six belong to the DPJ, two each to the LDP and the Social Democratic Party and one each to New Komeito and the Japanese Communist Party.

A total of 106 newly elected politicians had an average of 29.1 million yen in personal assets, down from 45.06 million yen in 1997.

By party, LDP members were the richest on average at 107.24 million yen, followed by NCP members with 56.8 million yen and DPJ members with 52.86 million yen.

JCP members had the lowest declared assets, at 9.41 million yen on average.