Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Could a scandal crush the reformer?

Crushing blow

The top-selling Yomiuri newspaper reported that Tokyo
prosecutors had started hearings with people on a donors'
list for Mr Hatoyama, who took office last month after his
party's crushing election victory.

Prosecutors have launched a probe into the fund-raising
activities of new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's office.
Hatoyama's lawyer, Mr Yoichi Ioroi: "An investigation into
the case of a (possible) violation of the political funds
control law has begun".

In June, Mr Hatoyama admitted keeping sloppy accounts for his
fund-raising association, which reported the donors' list
including the names of dead people and those who had denied
giving money.

Mr Hatoyama said his former accountant was solely responsible
for the problem. Amount involved? 21 million yen recorded
incorrectly since 2005.

Mr Hatoyama's government downplayed news of the
investigation. "Our prime minister has repeatedly made
apologies and explanations about what he knows," says Chief
Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano. Better wait for results
of investigation by prosecutors the new prime minister said.

His predecessor in breaking LDP rules early 90s also fell for
incorrect political funding. Time, 1994 April 18 :

"A popular reformer who came to power last August pledging to
sweep out "money politics" was outrun by a scandal of his own
making... "Hosokawa confessed that his previous explanations
of a questionable 1982 loan had not been candid... The
suspect loan, worth $960,000, came from the Sagawa Kyubin
trucking company. Hosokawa claims that he repaid the money,
but critics say he kept it to fund his campaign to become
governor of Kumamoto prefecture the following year. When
pressed, the Prime Minister first asserted that he used the
cash to purchase an apartment in Tokyo and to repair the
roofed gate and plaster wall of an ancestral home. Opposition
legislators charge that he bought the apartment before he
received the loan. They tracked down the construction
workers and determined that they charged only $67,000 for the
repair -- and did the work a year after Hosokawa received the
loan... Despite his downfall, Hosokawa will be remembered
for his role in prying Japanese politics free from the
hammerlock of the L.D.P. But he leaves behind an awkward
governing coalition, which includes highly conservative
former L.D.P. barons widely viewed as corrupt, as well as
pacifist social democrats and disparate smaller parties."
End of quotes.

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