National / Politics

Politics pays as average income of Japanese lawmakers hit 16-year high of ¥26.57 million in 2018

Kyodo, JIJI

Lawmakers’ income averaged ¥26.57 million in 2018, the highest in 16 years and up ¥2.45 million from a year before, parliamentary data showed Monday.

The average was inflated by the ¥1.74 billion income reported by Jiro Hatoyama, a House of Representatives member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Without his income, the average lawmaker’s earnings was similar to the year before.

Hatoyama, 40, got the bulk of his income — ¥1.66 billion — through sales of unlisted stocks he inherited. He is the second son of the late Internal Affairs Minister Kunio Hatoyama.

The top nine earners were all from the LDP, which is led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe was 27th in the overall ranking, with his income totaling ¥40.28 million on the back of a ¥1.09 million increase in miscellaneous income, including from his television appearances related to the September 2018 LDP leadership election.

The second-highest earner was Taichiro Motoe, an LDP member in the House of Councilors and a former lawyer. Motoe, 43, reported almost ¥500 million in income, most of it from selling shares in a company where he is representative director and chairman.

Ichiro Aisawa, 65, an LDP Lower House member, took third spot at ¥311.66 million, with ¥207.51 million earned from sales of stock in a family-owned company. He was the top earner in 2017 with ¥711.93 million.

Among Cabinet ministers excluding Abe, Science and Technology Policy Minister Takuya Hirai ranked first, with income of ¥50.53 million, and Finance Minister Taro Aso, who concurrently serves as financial services minister and deputy prime minister, came second, with an income of ¥37.11 million.

By political party, only the LDP saw the average income among its lawmakers surpass the overall average, at ¥30.16 million. The Democratic Party for the People was second, with members’ income averaging ¥22 million.

Abe took the earnings top-spot among party chiefs for the first time since he returned to power in late 2012, after the merger of the Liberal Party into the DPP left former Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa without a leadership role at the DPP.

Ozawa was the highest-earning party head for six years in a row until 2017.

Among the 97 female lawmakers who submitted details on their incomes, Seiko Noda, 59, topped the list at ¥30.47 million. The LDP Lower House budget committee chairwoman was 50th in the overall rankings.

The parliamentary data covered 457 members of the 465-seat Lower House and 241 members of the 242-seat Upper House who had seats in the Diet throughout 2018.

Lower House members’ income averaged ¥27.58 million, while the figure for Upper House members was ¥24.65 million.

Members who submitted additional information detailing their income increases through real estate and savings, among other factors, numbered 187 during 2018.

As of April 1, those reporting remuneration from business activities and organizations numbered 173.