POLITICS OCT. 07, 2016 – 06:40AM JST ( 12 )
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and two other cabinet ministers admitted Thursday to having their staff write amounts on blank receipts received for attending fellow lawmakers’ fundraising parties.
Suga, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi denied the practice constitutes a violation of the Political Funds Control Law, under which political fund reports containing such receipts had been filed.
The issue was raised in a House of Councillors Budget Committee session by Japanese Communist Party secretariat head Akira Koike. Koike presented the copies of receipts included in the fund reports for each lawmaker that he said were filled out in identical handwriting.
According to Koike, a total of 270 receipts submitted with Suga’s reports from 2012 through 2014 were filled out in the same handwriting, covering around 18.8 million yen, while 260 receipts submitted with Inada’s reports shared the same handwriting, covering about 5.2 million yen.
In Takaichi’s case, some 340 receipts submitted during the same period had been filled out in the handwritings of three people, totaling about 9.9 million yen, according to the JCP lawmaker.
Koike claimed the practice is against the spirit of the funds control law and could potentially be used to collect funds off the books.
While acknowledging that they had arranged for amounts and dates of payments for attending fundraising parties to be written onto blank receipts, the three Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers said the practice poses no legal problem because the receipts were filled out with the understanding of party hosts.
They also said the practice was to avoid congestion that could arise at the reception area if receipts had to be properly filled out on the spot at a large fundraising party where many people attend.
Suga told the parliamentary session that his office has never padded amounts written on such receipts.
Takaichi, whose ministry manages the issue, told the same session that the funds control law has no provision on how issuers of receipts should create them, and that receipts filled out by payers pose no legal problem as long as they are filled out with the understanding of party hosts.
Submission of income and expenditure reports is legally mandated for politicians, and receipts for attending fundraising parties of fellow lawmakers must also be attached to the reports.
Suga said at a press conference after the session that he wants to think of a way to manage receipts so as not to receive such attention in the future.