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2009年12月26日 (土)

鳩山首相団体偽装献金:元秘書ら2人起訴 「知らない」ことの罪=社会部長・小泉敬太

(Mainichi Japan) December 25, 2009
Hatoyama funding scandal shows just how out-of-touch the PM really is
鳩山首相団体偽装献金:元秘書ら2人起訴 「知らない」ことの罪=社会部長・小泉敬太

Yukio Hatoyama revealed his concerns to the Mainichi in September 1994, when his family's taxable inheritance was made public following the death of his father: "If we don't consider lowering the tax rate, people are no longer going to be able to live in Tokyo, where land prices are high."

Former Foreign Minister Iichiro Hatoyama had left a fortune of 15.2 billion yen, for which his family paid some 5 billion yen in inheritance taxes. Yukio Hatoyama himself paid over 1.6 billion yen in tax on the sale of stocks bequeathed to him.

The future prime minister's worry was one that would only have occurred to a wealthy grandson of the founder of Bridgestone Corp, a major tire manufacturer. Far removed from the general public's concept of money, his remark sounded selfish.

The recent fake donation scandal involving the prime minister's state-paid secretary is unique to independently wealthy politicians. Many past cases of Political Funds Control Law violations involved politicians falsifying records to hide donations from private corporations, a typical example of which was the scandal involving Nishimatsu Construction Co. and an aide to Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa.

Hatoyama's secretary, however, altered records to make it seem as though funds provided by family members were actually from individual donors, in an effort to give the appearance that there was widespread support for Hatoyama. Some argue that in contrast to corporate donation scandals, his case is not such a major issue because it was not driven by self-interest. However, the fact remains that the actions of his secretary betrayed the principle underlying the Political Funds Control Law -- to increase transparency in the flow of funds towards the aim of preventing political corruption -- and deceived the public.

It was only with media reports that deceased people had been falsely listed in Hatoyama's political fund reports as funding donors, and subsequent accusations from a citizens' organization, that the murky flow of vast amounts of funds surrounding the prime minister came to light. If it hadn't been for these acts of whistleblowing, records would have continued to be falsified and the provision of funds from the prime minister's mother would never have ceased. This should not be overlooked.

Above all, Hatoyama's delayed handling of the issue and his vague explanations have exacerbated the public's distrust towards politics. The prime minister himself has been spared any legal sanctions because no evidence indicating his involvement in the fake reports have been found, and has repeatedly claimed that he "knew nothing." But ignorance of an annual allowance 180 million yen from his mother seems rather far-fetched. And if, indeed, it is true that he was not aware of the funds, then that in itself, is a much bigger problem: Can someone so out of touch with the public's reality understand their hardships? Can we leave that person responsible for the collection of taxes and determining how that money will be spent?

The investigation into the relationship between politics and money is expected to continue, with Lower House legislator and former secretary to Ozawa Tomohiro Ishikawa, among others, slated to undergo questioning. Barring swift fundamental revisions to the Political Funds Control Law that would hold politicians accountable for their secretaries' legal transgressions as in the Public Offices Election Law, confidence in politics will no doubt continue to plummet. (By Keita Koizumi, City News Editor)

毎日新聞 2009年12月25日 東京朝刊


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