• Kyodo


The chairman of cosmetics firm DHC Corp. said Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe borrowed ¥800 million from him in the form of two loans but that none of his political funds reports list the funds.

DHC Chairman Yoshiaki Yoshida said Wednesday that the money he lent the president of the minor opposition party before the 2010 House of Councilors election and before the 2012 House of Representatives election “couldn’t be used in any other way than as election campaign funds.”

Yoshida also said that over ¥500 million of the cash hasn’t been repaid.

Neither the political funds reports filed by Watanabe’s main political organizations nor the income-expenditure reports for his election campaign in the 2012 Lower House election list such loans.

If any of the money was used to fund Watanabe’s political activities, the failure to report it would break the political funds control law or the public offices election law.

Watanabe told reporters Thursday that the DHC loans weren’t listed “due to clerical errors” and that he will correct the oversight.

He also denied any plans to resign over the matter.

“I didn’t feel any illegality” when borrowing the money, he said, while apologizing for causing trouble.

In a statement issued via his office Wednesday night, Watanabe said, “I borrowed the money as an individual and I decided on my own how the money should be spent,” adding that he will continue to repay the money with interest.

On Thursday, he said he spent it all but didn’t reveal how.

The size of the loans and the alleged failure to report them were first revealed by Yoshida in the Weekly Shincho magazine that went on sale Wednesday.

Yoshida told Kyodo that he wired ¥300 million to Watanabe’s personal bank account in 2010 and ¥500 million in 2012 after getting requests from Watanabe’s side for election campaign funds.

While Yoshida has an IOU from Watanabe for the ¥300 million, he has not received one for the ¥500 million, Yoshida said, adding that he is still owed around ¥550 million.

In contrast, Watanabe’s May 2013 assets report showed he had borrowed ¥250 million as of December 2012, far less than what Yoshida says he is owed.

None of the reports filed between 2009 and 2012 by Watanabe’s three political organizations, his party and its Tochigi Prefecture chapter list any donation or borrowed amounts equal to the ¥800 million provided by Yoshida.

“I didn’t think that has not been listed,” Yoshida said.

Reports filed by Your Party’s Tochigi chapter show, however, that donations from Yoshida totaled ¥60 million between 2010 and 2012. Others show that Yoshida paid ¥6 million in donations or fees to attend fundraising parties from 2009 to 2011.

The six-term Lower House member from Tochigi and son of former Finance Minister Michio Watanabe founded Your Party in August 2009 after leaving the Liberal Democratic Party. He was state minister in charge of deregulation during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s first stint as prime minister between 2006 and 2007.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.