The biggest faction of Japan’s ruling party is alleged to have pooled secret funds worth around 100 million yen ($676,000) to reimburse members who exceeded their quotas in selling fundraising party tickets, sources close to the matter said Friday.

Prosecutors are investigating the Liberal Democratic Party faction, formerly led by slain Prime Minister Shinzo Abe because it omitted to report the extra income as a political fund for at least the past five years, the sources said.

Photo taken on Dec. 1, 2023, shows the building in Tokyo that houses Seiwaken, the largest faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. (Kyodo) 

The LDP factions have traditionally set quotas for party tickets, usually priced at 20,000 yen, for their member lawmakers, the sources said, adding if they surpass their targets, they have the opportunity to receive the extra income as a kickback.

The revelation comes as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who currently heads the LDP, has been criticized amid allegations that he and four other major intraparty groups have underreported their party revenue by around 40 million yen between 2018 and 2021.

It may also deal a blow to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, a key government member, as he is a senior official of the largest faction within the LDP, called Seiwaken or the Seiwa policy study group, political pundits said.

Japan’s law obliges political groups to list the names of organizations and individuals who purchase party tickets worth more than 200,000 yen in their funds reports.

While the factions and their members are supposed to report such financial transactions, they have not abided by the political funds control law, and they have been lambasted for apparently attempting to accumulate a large amount of secret money.

Matsuno, the top government spokesman, remained tight-lipped over the allegation on Friday, saying, “I refrain from commenting on it from my position in the administration.”


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