By Go Kobayashi and Tatsuro Kawai, staff writers
Will lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties accept the 100,000 yen cash handouts that will be distributed as part of measures to combat the new coronavirus? The answer differs mostly along party lines.
Diet members from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) plan to decline the 100,000 yen, following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement that his cabinet will not accept the cash payments. Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of LDP coalition partner Komeito, said during a press conference on April 21 that, while he himself would not accept a handout, individual Komeito members in the Diet “should decide for themselves what to do.”
In the opposition camp, major parties are leaning toward receiving the payments in principle, and they are likely to use them to make donations. The chairs of the Diet Affairs Committees of the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDPJ), the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) met at the Diet building on April 22 and agreed to accept the handouts and then donate the money to medical institutions and other organizations in a way that does not violate the Public Offices Election Act. The plan will be finalized by the leaders of the four parties.
From the beginning, the opposition parties urged the government to make across-the-board cash payments. In a press briefing, CDPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Jun Azumi explained, “(If we refuse the handout) the cash would just be sitting in the national coffers. That would negate our efforts.”
Yuichiro Tamaki, Azumi’s counterpart in the DPFP, said during a press conference on April 22, “It makes it easier for people to accept the cash handouts if we do the same.”
Ichiro Matsui, the leader of the Japan Innovation Party (Nippon Ishin), has proposed for every party member holding an elected office, including those in local governments and the heads of prefectures, to receive the cash handouts, which will be collected later by the party for donation.