• Kyodo News

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Assets declared by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his 17 Cabinet ministers and their immediate family members averaged 91.36 million yen at the time his government was formed in September, documents they submitted showed Thursday.

Foreign Minister Taro Aso topped the asset list with 490.55 million yen, while Abe was third at 147.9 million yen and Defense Agency chief Fumio Kyuma was at the bottom with 20.91 million yen.

Ministers have been required to disclose their assets since 1984, after the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka was convicted in the Lockheed bribery scandal. However, critics say the current disclosure requirements do not provide a clear picture and sometimes may not show the market value of what they actually own.

The assets covered include real estate, deposits and securities held by the Cabinet members, their spouses, and the children financially dependent on them. Ministers are not required to disclose the market value of their stockholdings, just the names and number of shares they hold.

Following a barrage of criticism when it was revealed that Bank of Japan Gov. Toshihiko Fukui had investments in privately placed funds, disclosure of such funds is also required this year. The presented filings showed no Cabinet member had any investments in such funds.

Aso’s assets include his house in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward and real estate in the summer resort of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture. Financial assets, including bank deposits and postal savings, of Aso and his family stood at 78.50 million yen, excluding real estate.

Abe’s assets included real estate in his home prefecture, Yamaguchi. His house in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward was not counted because it belongs to his mother and his older brother.

Bunmei Ibuki, the education minister, ranked second after Aso with 155.4 million yen in assets.

If senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries are included, Aso is outranked by Ono Matsushige, senior vice minister of internal affairs and communications, who is worth 671.21 million yen, and Yasuko Ikenobo, senior vice minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, who holds 572.60 million yen in assets.

With no requirements for disclosing the value of stockholdings, the actual state of ministers’ assets may be distorted.

For instance, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki ranks 10th in the Cabinet, with assets of 51.73 million yen. This does not include the value of stocks he and his wife hold. They own stocks listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section that carried a market value of more than 100 million yen at the end of October.

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