How many times are political money scandals repeated? In late September as many as eleven members of local assembly of Toyama City were forced to resign due to the illicit requests for payment of political activities. These city council members used blank receipts as if they had been a check. By-election will be held before the scheduled election in April next year. Local voters deplore corruption of politics.
REPEATED POLITICAL BETRAYAL AND FRAUDULENCE
Frauds Disclosed One after Another
In the Toyama City Council a decision was made last June to raise the monthly salary of members by 100 thousand Yen to 700 thousand Yen. When a female journalist from the Kita-Nippon Newspaper Co. covered the debates, she was pushed down by a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who is Chairman of the LDP-led group, and her coverage memos were taken away.
The newspaper company presented a damage report. The firm has fully surveyed receipts of the council members to find that they had fabricated receipts and they had requested illegally for payment of fictitious business trips. The total of the falsified money amounts as much as 33 million Yen. Consequently, eleven members, who are from the LDP and other party, were obliged to step down.
In 2014 a similar scandal occurred in Higashi-Osaka City, when Speaker and Vice-speaker of the city assembly resigned as well as one council member. The racket was an inappropriate use of money. The total sum repaid voluntarily by each political party involved for five years accounts 38.8 million Yen. Mayor has demanded auditing.
Incidentally, as for Toyama City, the monthly payment for political activities is 150 thousand Yen per member, and in accordance with the number of members belonging to a faction, a sum between 150 and 450 thousand Yen is paid to each faction. For Higashi-Osaka City, the sum paid to a member for political activities counts 200 thousand Yen.
The sum paid to a member of local assembly for his/her political activities comes from tax money of residents. It is ruled by (1) payment of actual costs of activities, (2) necessity and validity, (3) solid proof, and (4) transparency. Political activities should be useful to residents as well as effective to city’s politics.
Public Funding to Political Parties ? More Corrupt Money
It is easy to disclose small frauds like those of Toyama City and Higashi-Osaka City. Bigger corrupt money is found in the public funding system for political parties, which amounts 32 billion Yen per year. This is the central part of frauds. The 1994 Act for Public Funding to Political Parties provides that government’s subsidies should encourage sound development of political activities and contribute to vigorous, democratic politics.
However, donations from business entities and organizations are still left intact, which should have been abolished. Distribution of subsidies is distorted as it depends on the number of parliamentary members elected in the small constituency system, not on the simple number of votes. The sum does not reflect people’s will.
The public funding system was introduced simultaneously with the small constituency election system. Thus, today the political structure is characterized by one very strong party versus many weak parties. Taking advantage of the number, a big party can implement policies to favor big business and can collapse the constitutional system. People lose ambition for political changes. The turnout of elections these days remains around 50%.
In addition, a series of administrative institutions, including the public funding to political parties, actually impede development of small parties or new political groups. Costs for election campaigns (posters, leaflets and advertisements) used to be covered by a public fund before implementation of the 1994 law, but it sets forth the bottom line and thus candidates who failed in obtaining the minimum votes cannot receive services from the public fund.
Deposit money for candidacy is expensive, which is not seen in the rest of the world. The public funding system is distorted. It is clear these factors prevent people from participating in politics. The scandal must not end in financial deception of political activities.
October 11, 2016