December 5, 2023
TOKYO – Some members belonging to Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyukai, or Seiwaken, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s faction in the Liberal Democratic Party, are suspected to have pooled more than ¥10 million by receiving off-the-books kickbacks over the past five years from fundraising parties, according to sources.
Abe’s faction manages party ticket income in a dedicated account. The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad suspects the faction has been systematically making large sums of slush funds for the members while keeping track of the income and expenditure flow to the members.
According to sources, Seiwaken used the dedicated account to manage the proceeds of party tickets sold to corporations and support groups through its members. Members are said to have confirmed with the faction whether they had achieved their quotas, and if there was an excess of quota they were paid kickbacks.
While the faction listed a total party income of about ¥660 million in its 2018-2022 political funds reports, the kickbacks were not listed as income or expenses on the faction, nor on legislators’ reports.
More than 10 members of the Abe faction are suspected to have such misappropriated income totaling more than ¥100 million over the past five years, including some members who accumulated more than ¥10 million alone.
Shisuikai, a different LDP faction led by Toshihiro Nikai was also found to be suspected of failing to include a portion of ticket sales in excess of quotas in its income. More than ¥100 million is believed to have been kicked back to the faction members. However, the amount of the kickbacks was reported in the political funds reports as expenditures and member income.
Investigators are looking into the possibility of prosecuting the case as a violation of the Political Funds Control Law and are considering interviewing dozens of LDP members.
Seko “not involved in faction’s accounting”
Secretary-General for the LDP in the House of Councillors Hiroshige Seko said at a press conference in Shingu, Wakayama Prefecture on Sunday that “we [will] investigate and confirm the facts in detail and take appropriate action,” regarding the allegations surrounding Seiwaken’s fundraising parties. Seko, who belongs to the faction, said only that “I myself am not involved in the faction’s accounting, so it is impossible for me to answer,” regarding when the investigation results will be released.