Thursday, January 11, 2007

His Dark Materials

When I see reports like this:

Groups of 2 ministers filed shady fund reports
The Asahi Shimbun

01/11/2007 - Scandals involving shady political fund reports have surfaced around two Cabinet members that could increase the humiliation already weighing down the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The fund reports were submitted by the political organizations of education minister Bunmei Ibuki and agriculture minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka.

In both cases, the groups reported large sums in office expenses in their mandatory fund reports. But the offices in question turned out to be the Cabinet members' rent-free rooms in the Diet members' office building.

The shady reports are reminiscent of the ones submitted to the government by the political organization of former administrative reform minister Genichiro Sata.

I find myself thinking, "I wonder whatever happened to Nonaka Hiromu's old files?"

Seriously, someone out there has it out for Abe Cabinet in the worse way. Going public with all this stuff all at once indicates either that that someone doesn't know what he is doing or that that someone doesn't care anymore.

Read the whole article (related articles in 日本語 can be found here and here ) and then say to yourself, "Why is this coming out now?"

The latest accused of dodging political funds reporting requirements by listing entertainment expenses as office costs: LDP Secretary-General Nakagawa Hidenao and Democratic Party Policy Research Council Chairman Matsumoto Takeaki.

Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Later - Okumura Jun in comments offers a timeline. No mystery here it seems--but no light at the end of the tunnel for the politicians.

It should also be noted that in the case of the DPJ's Matsumoto, the questionable claims come only a single year when his office was moving from Himeiji to Tokyo. The offices of the others under scrutiny made their questionable claims over the five years 2001 to 2005. The amount of money is also relatively minor in the Matsumoto case, less than a tenth of the amounts Ibuki Bunmei (the Topiary Accident) and Nakagawa the Barking Mad are being raked over the coals for.


Jun Okumura said...

MTC: The Yomiuri names "at least" six politicians, five from the LDP and one from the DPJ.

I think it all began with Matsuoka; in September, was it? Then some reporter got it into his/her head to go to the MCIA offices and take a look at the political finance records of all or some of the politicians that did what Matsuoka had been doing, i.e. register their rent-free Giin Kaikan room as their offices; and checked to see who had been dumping suspiciously large chunks of money there in brown bags, metaphorically speaking. The next thing the reporter did was to call the offices, ask them to comment, then write it up. Then the rest of the media caught on, and the stampede was on. Of course, it could just as easily have been you or me that started it all; we each have access to those public records, and a phone line, but we don't have the time and money to do it.

That is how I think it happened. One way to confirm this, as well as to see how the story spread, is to track down all the newspaper articles concerning this issue so far and lay them out along the timeline.

Incidentally, the Yomiuri says "at least six prominent Diet members". That may mean that they have yet to finish going through the list of "prominent" Diet members, let alone the "warhat" backbenchers.

Jun Okumura said...

MTC: You could just as easily say, 18.66 million yen for just one year, which is more than Mssrs. Endo or Eto when you extrapolate it to five years. But then you could make the counterargument that Mr. Matsumoto's numbers must have gone up because of moving costs.

My guess is, the DPJ is poorly represented because
1) there are fewer DPJ Diet members; and
2) DPJ has less money, collectively and individually.
Remember, it's "Two LDPs to E-ve-ry D-P-J *da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da*", and big business gives most of its money to the LDP. In any case, it's easy to prove me wrong and that there really is an unexplainable bias by going to: ... ... huh, what the... Hey, the data base is under maintenance, so the individual records can't be accessed. Somebody's been reading this blog...

Or not. Actually, purported conspiracies and shark attack outbreaks often do wind up having boring explanations if you go look up the records, such as there are.

What we should be getting from the media are exchanges like:

MTC: Mr. Ibuki, let's say you had to buy 1,000 box lunches and midnight katsudon for 100 people, that would be 100,000 yen. That's lot of people, a lot of money, no?
FI: Like duh, dude.
MTC: Mr. Ibuki, let's say you had to do that every single day of the year, that would come to 36,500,000 yen, now that's a huge amount of money, no?
FI: Fo' shizzle, dawg.
MTC: Okay, so, Mr. Ibuki, what did you do with the remaining 195,500,000 yen?
FI: Uh, drinks? You know,
Calpis and Pocari Sweat? Oh yeah, and some snacks, like Asse Chocolate...

You get the idea.

MTC said...

Mr. Okumura -

You are right, of course. Nominally, Matsumoto's figures are still pretty high--but my understanding of the story his people are pushing is that the claimed cost includes the rent for the cancelled Himeiji location.

Anyway, as you point out, the amounts being subsumed without a paper trail add up to a heck of a lot of late night bento specials, as well a considerable mound of such unimpeachable office necessities as A4 paper, erasers, highlighters and clear plastic folders.