The early 1990s administration of Kiichi Miyazawa used 143.86 million yen in so-called discretionary funds to distribute to ruling and opposition party lawmakers and to cover personal expenses at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, the Japanese Communist Party revealed Friday.
The disbursements came during a 14-month period beginning in November 1991; Miyazawa’s administration came to an end in August 1993.
If documents distributed by the JCP prove authentic, it would mark the first time that any record of these funds has been made public.
According to the documents presented by the JCP during a news conference by party head Kazuo Shii, money was distributed to both ruling and opposition party lawmakers alike and recorded under headings such as “Diet affairs” and “parties.”
The documents also show that money was used for personal expenses at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, like “gifts of flowers.”
The government has routinely refused to reveal how these funds are spent, saying they “ensure that domestic policymaking and diplomacy are smoothly and efficiently executed.”
However, critics say the funds, which are traditionally handled by the chief Cabinet secretary, have for years been used to support partisan politics and cover personal expenses.
During the 14 months in question, Koichi Kato was chief Cabinet secretary. Kato went on to become secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party before vacating his Diet seat earlier this week to take responsibility for an ex-aide’s tax scandal.
Kato’s office declined to comment on the revelations by the JCP, saying that he believes it is the government’s policy to not disclose how discretionary funds are spent.
The JCP said it received copies of the documents — pages from notebooks that listed monthly cash flow and papers used by the Cabinet noting expenditures and purpose — from “a concerned party.”
While the JCP said it cannot confirm who made the records, it said it believes a person involved in handling the money wrote the specifics in the notebooks and that staff members at the prime minister’s office sorted the entries by expenditure on Cabinet stationery.
Of the 143.86 million yen, 35.74 million yen was spent on “Diet affairs,” 30.28 million yen on “parties” — including symposiums and book-publishing events — and 16.62 million yen on allowances for secretaries and other assistants, according to the records.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is among the names on the lists. One entry for April 28, 1992, shows that Koizumi received 500,000 yen as a “going-away present.” Records show that he was part of an LDP mission to Eastern Europe that departed the following day.
Koizumi, who was on a trip to China on Friday, said he could not recall receiving any money from the discretionary pool.
“Is there anyone who can remember things that occurred 10 years ago?” he asked reporters when queried on the JCP findings.
Yuichi Ichikawa, who was a senior executive of New Komeito during the 14-month period and who also appears on the lists, issued a statement saying that he has “no recollection whatsoever” of receiving any money from the discretionary fund.
An entry for Sept. 17, 1992, shows that 1 million yen was paid out to Ichikawa as a “miscellaneous” expense. The JCP said Diet records show Ichikawa was on a team of lawmakers who departed on a three-country trip to Europe soon after that date.
At least one lawmaker who appeared on the lists of recipients admitted receiving the money. Former LDP Secretary General Makoto Koga recalled receiving 500,000 yen as either a “ticket fee” or “congratulatory money” for a fundraising party he held when he was the LDP’s deputy Diet affairs chief.
“I believe I received the money since it is stated (in the documents),” he said.
The LDP said it is in the dark over how the documents were obtained.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said he believes the documents presented by the JCP appear to be “private” in nature.
Fukuda questioned the documents’ authenticity, saying he wants the JCP to prove that the information is accurate.
He also said it is not appropriate for discretionary funds to be spent on tickets for lawmakers’ fundraising parties or on gifts for bureaucrats — as charged by the JCP — and added that discretionary funds are not currently spent in such a way.
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