In one night, you may be able to earn as much as 100 million yen.

This is not a story about gambling, but fundraising parties held by politicians in recent months.

Since late March, numerous factions and lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have held such parties to raise political funds to make up for dwindling political donations from companies.

Observers say that amid the prolonged economic doldrums, more politicians are turning to holding parties to secure campaign money ahead of the next general election, even though one is not expected in the near future.

A rush of such parties is expected to last until July.

“We have more time to sell party tickets at this time of the year,” an LDP lawmaker’s aide said, explaining why politicians are rushing to hold parties now.

In fact, such parties have proven to be an effective tool to raise political funds.

According to the government’s political fund report for 2000, total revenues from such parties stood at about 13.1 billion yen, about 2.4 times that of political donations provided by various corporations and organizations.

Money coming in from companies and organizations totaled some 5.4 billion yen that year.

For example, in April, a party held by an LDP faction headed by former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura attracted some 2,500 people, while another faction headed by LDP lawmaker Mitsuo Horiuchi managed to draw about 2,300 people.

Also, last month, nearly 5,000 people showed up for a fundraising party organized by the faction led by former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, to which Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi belongs.

Since each party ticket was sold for 20,000 yen, the faction is believed to have raised some 100 million yen.

Factions led by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki as well as the faction headed by former Foreign Minister Yohei Kono are planning to hold parties later this month, with the Hashimoto faction party scheduled for Wednesday.

Opposition lawmakers are also busy trying to draw people to their parties.

A party held by Tsutomu Hata, former prime minister and an executive member of the Democratic Party of Japan, drew a crowd of some 1,800 people May 14.

However, the tightening of companies’ purse strings means it is increasingly difficult for politicians to attract ticket-buying guests.

Some companies and supporters, for example, have decided not to buy tickets for the party planned by Lower House member Yuko Obuchi, daughter of the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, saying their businesses are not doing well, according to political sources.

A Cabinet minister also lamented recently that he has managed to sell only two tickets to a major automaker for his party.

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