The opposition parties may have smelled blood over the recent Cabinet minister funding scandals, but they now have a spending irregularity of their own to deal with.
Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Yukio Edano said Wednesday that one of his supporter groups had failed to record ¥2.4 million worth of income in its political funding report for 2011.
He said the group collected the money from 487 supporters who paid an entrance fee at a New Year’s gathering in Saitama Prefecture in February 2011, but it failed to report the income.
Auditors pointed out the discrepancy at the time. The group corrected its accounts but it mistakenly filed the uncorrected version, Edano said.
He apologized and said he would ensure the corrected document was filed on Wednesday.
“Although I believe it does not violate the election campaign law nor the political funds control law, I’m embarrassed about such a simple and careless mistake,” Edano told reporters.
Asked whether the DPJ would continue to grill Cabinet members over the reported ministerial scandals, Edano said they would.
He said his case is different from that of Yuko Obuchi, who stepped down as trade minister last week over discrepancies between income and expenses in her political funding reports.
“Obuchi hasn’t explained why that happened. She has only said she would investigate,” Edano said.
This week, agriculture minister Koya Nishikawa was also accused by a muckraking magazines of using political funds to benefit his immediate family.
The reports allege that one of the Liberal Democratic Party’s local chapters in Tochigi Prefecture, headed by Nishikawa, spent roughly ¥330,000 between 2010 and 2012 on gifts from a company run by Nishikawa’s son — who was also working as his secretary.
They reported similar purchases from a company run by other relatives, bringing the total amount of political funds involved to nearly ¥1 million.
At a press conference following the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Nishikawa admitted that the LDP’s chapter had bought office supplies from his relatives’ company. But he said there was “no illegality,” adding that the purchases were “appropriately reported in line with the political funds control act.”
“It was coincidental that the company where the purchases were made was run by my relatives,” said Nishikawa, adding that the firm is a major purveyor of office supplies in the prefecture.
Information from Kyodo added