• Kyodo


Two political fund management bodies of consumer affairs minister Seiko Noda received a combined ¥300,000 in donations from scandal-tainted Katokichi Co. and its former president in 2003 and 2006, her political fund reports showed Thursday.

The revelation came after Noda, 47, was previously found to have received a ¥50,000 donation from Matabe Maeda, the disgraced founder of major construction contractor Maeda Corp. Maeda resigned as the company’s honorary chairman and board member to assume responsibility for a bribery scandal that also led to the arrest of former Fukushima Gov. Eisaku Sato in 2006.

Noda’s political fund filings showed that her fund management body, Nijuisseiki no kai, received ¥100,000 from former Katokichi President Yoshikazu Kato in April 2006.

The filings also showed that in October 2003, Katokichi donated ¥200,000 to the Liberal Democratic Party’s chapter for the No. 1 electoral district in Gifu Prefecture, which Noda headed at the time.

Allegations that frozen food company Katokichi had been padding sales surfaced in March 2007. The following month, the company, based in Kanonji, Kagawa Prefecture, owned up to the misdeed, and Kato stepped down from his post to assume responsibility.

The company is still under police investigation over the accounting irregularities, while a former executive has been indicted for fraud in connection with the scam.

An aide to Noda said the donations have not been returned to the donors and there are no plans to do so.

Noda assumed the post of the minister of state for science and technology, food safety, consumer affairs and space policy in Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s Aug. 1 Cabinet reshuffle.

While Noda’s appointment was seen as eye-catching, other appointments were largely perceived as recycling old faces.

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