• Kyodo

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Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, called Saturday for a sharp reduction in the government’s secret funds following the revelation Friday that about 66 million yen was given to lawmakers in 1991 and 1992 to ensure that proceedings in the Diet went smoothly.

“If the funds were used in such a way, it is natural to sharply reduce the amount,” Hatoyama told a press conference in Tokushima. “We also need a system under which the application of the funds is disclosed after a certain period.”

Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii revealed Friday that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa spent the 66 million yen to ensure smooth Diet proceedings and to finance fundraising parties for politicians in the 14 months from November 1991.

Accounting records presented by Shii showed the funds — drawn from taxpayers’ money — were spent on such things as expensive suits and merchandise coupons to be presented to both ruling and opposition lawmakers.

Hatoyama said the Cabinet secretariat’s spending of the confidential funds in this way is “miserable” in light of the funds’ original purpose to help “smoothly and effectively carry out national services.”

The JCP revealed where some 144 million yen in secret funds had gone, divulging how the cash was spent for the first time. The government has routinely declined to specify what the funds are used for on the grounds that it might compromise national security.

The DPJ leader said the total amount of confidential funds spent by the Cabinet secretariat “must have been greater,” and said he wants to know how the money not detailed in the records presented by Shii was spent, as well as how the funds are being handled now.

Hatoyama said it is too early to determine whether the records are authentic, but criticized the government for not being accountable for the documents, claiming they are not official records.

“Now that these documents have been brought forward, the government needs to provide correct information to its citizens,” he said.

Miyazawa served as prime minister from November 1991 to August 1993.

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