National / Politics

Average value of assets declared by members of Japan's Upper House hits record low

Kyodo

The average value of assets held by 124 Upper House members elected or re-elected last July was reported to be at a record-low of ¥18.35 million ($170,000), a Kyodo News tally showed Monday.

The value of financial assets, land and property held by House of Councilors members fell 38.6 percent, from ¥29.90 million in the previous survey in 2017.

The average amount is the lowest for members of both chambers of the Diet since 1993, when a law came into effect requiring them to declare the worth of their assets.

However, the law is considered to have many loopholes as lawmakers are not compelled to submit evidence to support their declarations, and various assets — such as stock holdings or assets listed as owned by spouses or children — are not required to be disclosed.

They are also not required to report money in ordinary deposits or cash.

Upper House elections are held every three years to appoint half the chamber to six-year terms.

Toshiharu Furukawa, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who won a third term in the most recent election, reported assets of the highest value at ¥296.01 million.

With ¥117 million, former education minister and LDP member, Yoshimasa Hayashi, was the only Upper House lawmaker to join Furukawa in reporting assets of more than ¥100 million.

House of Councilors President Akiko Santo ranked third at ¥88.15 million, leading female lawmakers.

By party, the LDP ranked top in the average assets per member at ¥27.57 million followed by the Japan Innovation Party at ¥22.75 million, while members of minor parties Reiwa Shinsengumi and NHK Kara Kokumin o Mamoru To (Party to Protect the People from NHK) reported no assets.

By category, lawmakers held an average of ¥5.98 million in fixed-term deposits, ¥5.62 million in land, and ¥6.76 million in buildings, while the average value of loans held stood at ¥12.22 million.

The average value of assets held by 40 new Upper House members, including former Lower House members, stood at ¥10.22 million, with 26 reporting less than ¥10 million.