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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has joined several other members of his Cabinet as well as the top opposition leader in admitting receipt of donations from businesses that have been granted government subsidies. All deny the illegality of their receipt under the Political Funds Control Law, which bans political donations by firms within a year after receiving such subsidies, saying that they were not aware that the donors had been subsidized. But the core problem with donations by subsidized firms is that the act could result in the companies effectively channeling taxpayer money to politicians. The Diet should work to highlight what’s wrong with the system and make changes where necessary.

On Feb. 23, farm minister Koya Nishikawa resigned over millions of yen in donations that a Liberal Democratic Party chapter he heads in his Tochigi Prefecture constituency had received from a local wood processing company and a firm run by a sugar industry association — both within a year after they had been granted government subsidies. Since then, the receipt of similar donations by other Cabinet ministers has been revealed. Abe himself acknowledged on Tuesday that an LDP chapter in his Yamaguchi Prefecture constituency accepted a total of ¥1.84 million from three subsidized firms from 2011 to 2013. Also joining the ranks the same day was Katsuya Okada, leader of the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan, which has been stepping up its criticism of the Abe administration over the issue in Diet deliberations.

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