• Kyodo News


Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Takashi Esaki came under a cloud Tuesday after his funds management body and support group revealed he sold around 2,000 tickets for a 2009 fundraiser at a hall with a maximum capacity of 300.

The disparity between the number of tickets sold and the venue’s capacity could be interpreted as an inappropriate donation under the Political Funds Control Law, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku pledged to look into the matter the same day.

The All-Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers Union (Jichiro), one of the country’s largest industrial labor federations, and its member unions purchased some 2,000 tickets at ¥10,000 apiece for the event, which was held in Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture, on Aug. 25, 2009.

About 300 people attended, according to the report and union officials.

Esaki, 54, who has filled senior posts at Jichiro, won his first House of Councilors seat in last July’s election through proportional representation with the union’s backing.

As the law bans donations to lawmakers’ funds management bodies from organizations such as labor unions and corporations, the sales of the remaining 1,700 tickets are suspected of being de facto donations to Esaki’s funds management body.

Esaki’s office and Jichiro have both denied the allegation, claiming they believe there were no irregularities over the fundraising party.

Sengoku, the top spokesman of the DPJ-led government, told a Tuesday morning news conference that the party should investigate further and make its position clear if the sales of the tickets are suspected of being political donations.

Jichiro, which comprises unions of workers at the nation’s prefectural and municipal governments, had 900,000 members as of February 2008. It is a member of the country’s largest umbrella labor organization, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), which is a key support base of the DPJ.

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