LDP Investigation Uncovers Unreported Cash Donations

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LDP Investigation Uncovers Unreported Cash Donations

An investigation by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) revealed inconsistencies regarding unreported cash donations at fund-raising parties. The report, released on February 15, included questioning of 82 lawmakers and three electoral district branch heads.

Of the individuals questioned, 79 belonged to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's faction, while six were from the faction led by Toshihiro Nikai. The origins of the practice of returning excess funds to lawmakers remained unclear. Abe faction members suggested it began around 20 years ago, while Nikai faction lawmakers estimated it started a decade ago.

According to the committee's findings, many lawmakers were instructed by faction officials to exclude the returned funds from their political fund reports. While 53 lawmakers admitted to spending the funds, they provided no specific details or explanations regarding personal use or political activities.

Eleven Abe faction lawmakers acknowledged the omission from their fund reports. Thirty-one lawmakers stated they did not spend the funds, citing concerns about the legitimacy or a desire to reserve them for future quota fulfillment.

One Abe faction lawmaker expressed dissatisfaction with the practice, which had resumed despite Abe's prohibition before his assassination in 2022. Despite expressions of remorse by some lawmakers, others justified it as a long-standing tradition.