(Nikkei: February 4, 2016 – p. 2)
Deliberations on a budget draft for fiscal 2016 began on Feb. 3 at the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee. The opposition parties continue to grill Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other ruling parties’ members on the money scandal involving former Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari.
Democratic Party of Japan President Katsuya Okada expressed doubt about the money Amari received and called it a bribe. Amari explained at a Jan. 28 press conference that he had instructed his office to properly record the funds in accordance with political fund control law. “He received the money in November and reported in February the following year, through which I cannot help but conclude it was a bribe.”
DPJ member Kensuke Onishi questioned the recording of the money in a financial report as a donation of a total of 1 million yen, despite the fact that it was given on two occasions. Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi answered that a financial report in principle includes a balance of revenue and expenditures as of the end of December. Onishi argued: “Combining revenue incurred in different years and reporting them together runs counter to the principle of law.”
Asked whether Amari’s acceptance of money affected policy-making, Abe answered, “This has had no influence over the TPP or our economic and fiscal policy management.” Okada demanded proof be presented.
Amari plans to investigate the facts and report the results. Depending on the content, this may give rise to new doubts. (Abridged)