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Political donations plunged to a record-low 24.3 billion yen in 2002, down 24 percent from the previous year in a reflection of the ongoing economic slump, according to a government report released Thursday.

It was the first time the total slipped below 30 billion yen since the current political funds disclosure system was introduced in 1976, according to the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry.

The ministry also attributed the decline to a lack of national elections.

The survey was based on political funds reports by 4,230 fund-management organizations for political parties and politicians.

The total income of the organizations was 135 billion yen, down 13.4 percent from 2001, while total spending came to 124.6 billion yen, down 23.2 percent.

Donations from individuals slipped 16.7 percent to 6.16 billion yen, and those from political organizations fell 27.8 percent to 14.43 billion yen.

Government subsidies to eight political parties amounted to 31.7 billion yen. The parties spent 21.3 billion yen of that, indicating the remainder has been put aside for the general election expected by the end of this year.

Among the major political parties, the Japanese Communist Party reported the largest revenue of 33.43 billion yen, followed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party with 22.93 billion yen. New Komeito, a junior member of the ruling triumvirate, was third with 15.38 billion yen.

Political organizations of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reported revenue of 43 million yen, the lowest of the four candidates for the LDP presidential election scheduled for Sept. 20. He ranked 106th among Diet members, down from 70th in 2001.

As for the other three, former LDP policy affairs chief Shizuka Kamei’s organizations reported revenue of

224 million yen, former transport minister Takao Fujii 97 million yen and former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura 79 million yen.

Atop the rankings was Takeo Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry, with 351.59 million yen. He was followed by LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki, with 227.37 million yen.

Hiranuma atop the list for the second straight year, thanks to five fundraising parties he held in defiance of a 2001 Cabinet rule urging ministers to voluntarily limit their money-gathering operations. The rule was aimed at restoring public confidence in politics.

Among opposition lawmakers, Yukio Hatoyama, the former chief of the Democratic Party of Japan, came in fourth, with 214.34 million yen, up 66 percent. Current DPJ chief Naoto Kan saw his income jump around 50 percent to 39.36 million yen.

The scandal-tainted Muneo Suzuki, who has been charged with bribery, ranked eighth, up from 17.