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The amount of funds raised by political bodies in 2001 fell 3.2 percent from the previous year to 322.6 billion yen, according to Kyodo News calculations based on reports by the organizations, including political parties.

Local political organizations, whose activities are limited to a single prefecture, had submitted the reports on the tax-free political funds to prefectural election administration committees as of Friday.

Funds raised by local chapters of the main political parties and by regional political organizations in all 47 prefectures in 2001 came to 166.7 billion yen, down 5.6 percent from the previous year.

Combining the figure with the funds raised last year by political parties and organizations active in more than one prefecture, which were announced by the government in September, the total amount of political funds reported for 2001 came to 322.6 billion yen.

Company donations to political parties and their local chapters fell to a record-low 20.7 billion yen — down 17.1 percent from the previous year. Kyodo started making the calculations in 1983.

Corporate donations to individual politicians or their fund-management bodies have been prohibited since the Political Funds Control Law was revised in January 2000.

Donations by individuals fell 5.7 percent to 43 billion yen.

However, political funds obtained through fundraising parties hit a record-high 24.9 billion yen, up 5.7 percent.

Among Diet members, Muneo Suzuki, who is on trial on bribery charges, amassed the largest amount in political funds last year with 400 million yen. He also tops the list of lawmakers collecting company donations through local chapters headed by themselves.

Of the combined political funds, the main political parties and their official fundraising groups collected 210.9 billion yen, down 2.4 percent from the previous year. About half of the combined funds were collected through local chapters.

Among the parties, the Japanese Communist Party topped the list, collecting 72.8 billion yen, up 9.3 percent.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which was in first place last year, dropped to second, with an estimated 70.4 billion yen in political funds, down 9.5 percent, followed by its coalition partner, New Komeito, with 24.1 billion yen,, down 0.1 percent.

The Democratic Party of Japan raised an estimated 19.4 billion yen, down 8 percent.

The amount spent by political parties in 2001 came to an estimated 328.6 billion yen, down 6.3 percent from the year before. Although elections for the House of Councilors were held in July last year, the spending did not increase as it did two years ago, when there was a general election for the House of Representatives.

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