Many who make their living in the political epicenter of Nagata-cho have expressed sympathy for a former treasurer of the Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction who was arrested Sunday for allegedly violating the political donation law.

Toshiyuki Takigawa, 55, is suspected of violating the Political Funds Control Law by not listing in the faction’s political donations report a 100 million yen check allegedly received by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto from the Japan Dental Association.

Hashimoto stepped down as faction leader last month after the scandal broke.

Sources close to the LDP, however, sympathize with Takigawa, saying that such “underground money,” which does not show up in political fund reports, is necessary in the world of politics.

One former secretary to an LDP member of the House of Representatives showed surprise when the incident came to light.

“It’s unthinkable to hand (the money) in check form,” the former secretary said. “They don’t understand the difference between open money and underground money.”

Remarks from other sources indicate that similar practices are rampant.

“The issue of good or bad aside, we need underground money that can be used freely for elections,” a source close to the ruling party said.

According to the faction’s political fund reports, income for 2001 came to some 420 million yen excluding money carried forward. Money gained through fundraisers made up 260 million yen of the amount, followed by about 100 million yen from donations by the political bodies of powerful faction members. Party dues and other membership fees came to roughly 60 million yen.

Against such figures, a single donation of 100 million yen would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

“That’s probably why it was difficult to put it on the record,” the former secretary observed.

The faction has its roots in the intraparty group formed by the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and has long reigned as the mainstream faction within the LDP. It enjoys strong ties with various industries.

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