• Kyodo

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Lawmakers earned an average of ¥24.16 million in income last year, down ¥110,000 from 2019, Diet data showed Wednesday, with the salary of members cut by 20% since May 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The average income among lawmakers marked a decline in 2020 for the second straight year. But it remained almost flat compared with the 2019 level despite the salary cut in view of people’s lives and state finances impacted by the pandemic, buoyed by sharp gains in income of the top earner through stock sales.

Taichiro Motoe, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party member of the House of Councillors, topped the list of 702 lawmakers with his income of ¥1.91 billion. He became the top earner among lawmakers for the second consecutive year.

The lawyer-turned-politician, who founded the operator of a portal site for legal consultations, saw his income soar from ¥845.02 million in 2019 on gains from stock sales and received dividends.

Upper House lawmaker Yukihito Koga from the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan rose to second place, from 31st in the previous year, with income of ¥116.81 million, including ¥98.7 million in gains from foreign exchange trading.

Among leaders of seven ruling and opposition parties, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who heads the LDP, reported the highest income of ¥38.71 million in 2020, up from ¥27.66 million the previous year when he was chief Cabinet secretary under his predecessor, Shinzo Abe.

Suga’s income ranked 23rd on the overall list and increased as he earned more money from growing exposure to the media after becoming prime minister last September.

Meanwhile, CDP leader Yukio Edano reported ¥18.07 million, the lowest income last year among the seven party leaders including Toranosuke Katayama, co-head of the opposition Japan Innovation Party.

The average income of LDP lawmakers stood at ¥27.27 million last year, up ¥1.19 million from 2019, hitting the highest level among the nine parties for the fourth straight year. The heads of three parties among the nine are not lawmakers.

Of the top 20 earners on the list, LDP members took 13 places.

A fringe party with two parliamentarians led by Takashi Tachibana, a former Upper House member who has been a vocal critic of public broadcaster NHK, came second in the average income ranking at ¥24.11 million, followed by the CDP at ¥21.1 million.

The data also showed the average income of female lawmakers came to ¥19.25 million last year, while that of male lawmakers stood at ¥24.99 million, highlighting the gender pay gap in Japan’s political world.

Among the 101 female lawmakers, the highest earner was Upper House President Akiko Santo, with ¥32.03 million, despite her rank of 40th on the overall list.

LDP House of Representatives member Toshiko Abe came second among female lawmakers, with ¥30.06 million, followed by Upper House member Seiko Hashimoto, who heads the Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympics, at ¥28.74 million.

As of 2020, women comprised just 9.9% of lawmakers in the Lower House, and 22.9% in the Upper House.

The average income data covered 459 members of the Lower House and 243 members of the Upper House who had seats in the Diet throughout the reporting year.

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