National / Politics

Quotas for Abe and others led to bumper guest lists for blossom parties, papers show

JIJI

The number of guests at state-funded cherry blossom-viewing parties ballooned due to special quotas allocated to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other politicians, according to newly discovered Cabinet Office materials.

The materials, submitted to the ruling and opposition camps Tuesday, include lists of guests invited to the controversial cherry blossom-viewing parties from 2014 to 2019 that were hosted by Abe.

Opposition parties are urging the government to present further materials related to the parties at the center of cronyism allegations involving the Abe administration.

In 2019, the number of guests totaled 15,420, up about 1,700 from 2015, according to the lists.

The number of people classified as distinguished guests, apparently representing the quotas based on the recommendations of the prime minister or other politicians, stood at 8,894, up 1,500 from 2015. The list for the 2014 party had no such entry.

The number of guests peaked in 2018, at 15,910, including 9,494 invited under the quotas, up 1,900 from the previous year.

In September 2018, Abe won a third straight term as president of the ruling Libel Democratic Party.

Asked why the materials had remained undisclosed, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Wednesday that he was unaware of their existence.

Jun Azumi, parliamentary affairs chief of the major opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters the same day that the numbers shown in the documents are surprising.

The party will urge the government to fully disclose materials related to the parties, he said, adding that Abe and Suga should take responsibility.

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