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The average 2002 income of Diet members fell 6.2 percent from the previous year to a record low 26.93 million yen, reflecting the nation’s slumping economy and a 10 percent cut in state payments to legislators since April 2002.

According to data released Monday by the Diet, it was the lowest average since the Diet began releasing lawmakers’ income data in 1993. The previous low was 27.54 million yen in 2000.

Shozaburo Nakamura, a former justice minister and a member of the House of Representatives from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, topped the list with 626.84 million yen, thanks to one-time gains from dividends paid by a liquidated company in which he was the largest shareholder.

LDP Lower House member Takashi Sasagawa was next with 591.17 million yen. He was the top income earner among Diet members between 1998 and 2001.

Ryu Matsumoto, a Lower House member from the Democratic Party of Japan, was third with 298.48 million yen, making him the only DPJ Diet member with an income of more than 100 million yen.

Six Diet members received income of 100 million yen or more, the same as in 2001. But all except Nakamura saw their income fall from the previous year.

A total of 91 lawmakers only reported income from state payments, at 19.38 million yen, the figure after deductions from 22.19 million yen in state payments to each Diet member.

By party, the LDP beat the others with an average income of 31.12 million yen, retaining the top spot for the fourth year in a row.

In terms of average income per Diet member, a group of independents came in second, at 25.5 million yen; followed by the DPJ, at 24.01 million yen; the New Conservative Party, at 22.87 million yen; the Liberal Party, at 22.12 million yen; New Komeito, at 20.67 million yen; and the Social Democratic Party, at 20.2 million yen.

The Japanese Communist Party came in last, at 20.02 million yen, with no party members reporting increased income.

The LDP, New Komeito and NCP form the ruling coalition.

Among party leaders, LDP President and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was the richest, with 40.79 million yen, including his 20.88 million yen state salary.

Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa came in second with 33.01 million yen, followed by DPJ leader Naoto Kan with 27.02 million yen and New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki with 21.33 million yen.

NCP leader Hiroshi Kumagai received the least of the party leaders, 19.38 million yen.

The income data covered Diet members who served over the course of the whole year — 468 in the 480-seat House of Representatives and 240 in the 247-seat House of Councilors.

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