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LDP and Komeito agree on draft political funds reform; Standard for naming party ticket buyers is still an issue

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi (right) and his Komeito counterpart Keiichi Ishii exchange documents at the Diet Building on Thursday.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito agreed on draft revisions to the Political Funds Control Law on Thursday.

In light of a series of political fundraising scandals involving LDP factions, the draft revisions propose tougher penalties and external monitoring measures for Diet members, aiming to prevent recurrence of such issues and increase transparency.

With regard to the threshold for the mandatory disclosure of the names of ticket purchasers of fundraising parties and the disclosure of how money for expenditure on political activities is spent – both matters still pending – the two sides shared the recognition that the current rules on these matters, but no specific measures were proposed.

LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi and his Komeito counterpart Keiichi Ishii met at the Parliament Building and agreed to revise the law during the current parliamentary session based on the agreed draft revisions. After the meeting, Motegi told reporters: “We will decide on details such as the new threshold for mandatory disclosure and draft a revision law through discussions between the ruling and opposition parties.”

As part of measures to prevent the same type of scandal from happening again, the draft revisions require lawmakers to issue a written confirmation confirming the accuracy of their political fund reports, clarifying their responsibility for overseeing their treasurers. In cases where a treasurer is punished for reasons such as failing to properly report his political funds, the legislature may be subject to sanctions, including a suspension of his right to participate in elections if his confirmation is found to have been insufficient. If there are unreported funds, lawmakers would be required to pay the equivalent amount to the national treasury.

To ensure transparency of political funds, the draft revisions include stricter external audits of political funds reports. Specifically, the scope of items subject to external audits would be expanded to include the income of political organizations, and political funds would have to be deposited and managed in bank accounts. The revisions would also make it mandatory for lawmakers to file and make public their political fund reports online.

Regarding the transfer of funds between political organizations, such entities, including legislator support groups, will face stricter mandatory disclosure standards in political fund reports if they receive donations of more than 10 million yen per year from other political organizations that are affiliated with Diet members, such as local branches of political parties. There are cases where legislative support groups and other organizations have received large donations from local branches of political parties, and some observers point out that the use of such funds is not always clear. The revision will take such criticism into account.

The two parties failed to reach an agreement on the details of these pending cases, as the LDP apparently wanted to leave room for negotiation in the discussions between the ruling and opposition parties.

As for the threshold amount for mandatory disclosure of the names of party ticket purchasers, the draft revisions only state that it will be reduced from the current standard of “more than ¥200,000.” Komeito called for the amount to be reduced to “more than ¥50,000,” and the LDP insisted that the amount be “more than ¥100,000.” No compromise was reached.

The two sides agreed that lawmakers who receive expenditures for political activities from their political parties would report how they used the money, but they did not elaborate on the issue.

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