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2014年10月31日 (金)

政治資金問題 報告書監査の実効性を高めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Auditing of political fund reports must be made more effective
政治資金問題 報告書監査の実効性を高めよ

There has been a succession of scandals involving Cabinet ministers and Diet members over money in politics. To regain the public’s trust in politics, both the ruling and opposition parties must promptly discuss ways to prevent the recurrence of such irregularities.

A local office of the Liberal Democratic Party in Hiroshima Prefecture, headed by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa, was found to have received political donations totaling ¥400,000 from a local company that was majority-owned by foreign nationals in 2007 and 2008.

His receipt of the money could constitute a violation of the Political Funds Control Law, which bans political donations from foreign individuals or corporations.

Miyazawa told reporters he was not aware of the actual status of the company. However, there is no denying he failed to manage his political funds strictly enough.

When the Democratic Party of Japan was in power, then Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara resigned to take responsibility for having received political donations from a South Korean resident in Japan. Former prime ministers Naoto Kan and Yoshihiko Noda, both of whom belong to the DPJ, were also criticized for receiving political donations from foreign nationals.

It is regrettable that there appears to be no end to similar scandals in politics.

Also coming to light recently was the fact that Miyazawa’s fund management organization spent political activity funds at a bar that puts on sadomasochistic shows.

Miyazawa must put his political fund management under stricter scrutiny to ensure no further improper spending has occurred, and he must give a detailed explanation on these matters.

Growing problem

Meanwhile, a political organization related to Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki failed to record about ¥6.6 million in expenses that should have been recorded as entertainment expenses in political fund reports in 2008 and 2009. Instead, the expenses were put down as costs for New Year’s greeting events held by volunteers, which had nothing to do, in principle, with entertainment expenses, and thus did not need to be recorded in the reports.

Mochizuki explained that as his wife, who was in charge of accounting for the organization, has passed away, he cannot confirm the details as to how the designation of the expenses came to be changed.

Nonetheless, he cannot evade his responsibility for having failed to properly supervise the management of his funds. He must conduct a full-fledged probe into the case by questioning relevant parties and make public the outcome of the probe.

Opposition parties cannot treat the recent spate of scandals as someone else’s problem.

A political organization of Yukio Edano, the DPJ’s secretary general, failed to record about ¥2.4 million in revenue from a New Year’s party held in 2011 in its funds report. Admitting to a clerical error, Edano apologized.

With the introduction of a system of public funding for political parties, public funds are included in political funds.

Even after two female Cabinet ministers resigned over politics-and-money scandals, more and more similar irregularities are cropping up. This is a situation that may heighten public distrust of politics.

Under the Political Funds Control Law that was revised in 2007, a political organization related to a Diet member is obliged to have their political funds audited by a certified public accountant or a certified tax accountant, starting with the 2009 funds reports.

In reality, however, the auditing goes only so far as to check, for instance, whether the entries are made in line with the receipts. It falls short of checking the appropriateness of the spending. Enhancing the auditing’s effectiveness must be discussed.

It is also essential to enhance the competence of those in charge of accounting and the secretaries who are supposed to compile political funds reports. The LDP is discussing the possibility of holding a training workshop concerning fund reports, which will be given to secretaries and other officials working for Diet members of the party.

It is a matter of urgency for such efforts to be promoted proactively and to be widely put in place.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 30, 2014)Speech


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