Hatoyama must answer inquest panel's questions
An inquest panel recently decided it was appropriate for prosecutors not to indict Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama over false records of political donations compiled by his fund-management organization. However, Hatoyama should not mistakenly think this has allowed him to completely escape the scandal over falsified political donations. We would like to ask the prime minister to carefully read the report compiled by the Tokyo No. 4 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution.
Hatoyama continually said he knew nothing about the falsification of the political fund reports and the huge amount of money provided by his mother. However, the panel questioned this, saying the natural feeling of ordinary citizens was that such a situation was unthinkable. Most of the public will probably have the same doubts.
It is the prime minister's duty to answer that question as well as to explain the use of his political funds. This should be considered separately from whether he is criminally liable.
Hatoyama's claim doubted
In its report, the panel explained what caused Hatoyama's former first state-funded secretary to begin falsifying the political fund reports.
Hatoyama's organization became totally dependent on the prime minster's personal funds after donations from companies and labor unions to political fund management organizations were prohibited by law in 2000.
"Don't always rely on my money," Hatoyama was quoted as telling the former secretary. "I want you to raise funds on your own."
Hatoyama's complaint prompted the former secretary to start falsifying records of political donations by padding contributions from individuals and revenues from fund-raising parties, the report said.
Hatoyama told the former secretary to raise funds by himself, but the prime minister must have understood how difficult that would be.
Meanwhile, Hatoyama's provision of money to the fund organization has decreased drastically every year since his organization began receiving political funds of 15 million yen a month--180 million yen annually--from his own mother. Given these circumstances, Hatoyama's claim to have known nothing is hardly convincing, the panel said. This logic is strongly persuasive.
Also, some members of the public suspected the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office of giving special consideration to the government when it did not directly question Hatoyama and instead let him submit a written report about the issue.
Quite a few members of the inquest panel reportedly questioned the contents of Hatoyama's written report. In other words, they may have said prosecutors' investigations were insufficient.
Panel seeks tougher law
It is also noteworthy that the panel proposed revisions of the current Political Funds Control Law, saying its provisions are very advantageous for politicians.
Representatives of political fund organizations are held accountable for violations of the law if they do not pay proper attention to the appointment and supervision of the people responsible for the organizations' accounting. However, there must be neglect of not only one, but both appointment and supervision to constitute a violation.
This is why the prime minister, who was found not to be at fault regarding the former secretary's appointment, was not charged with criminal liability.
New Komeito has already submitted to the current Diet session a bill to revise the law so that people who neglect either appointment or supervision can be held criminally responsible. However, discussions on the bill have not proceeded very far because members of some parties feel it is too strict or that prosecutors would misuse the revised law.
It is common sense among ordinary people for superiors at private companies to take responsibility for supervising their subordinates, according to the panel.
We would like the panel's opinion to be applied to discussions about revising the law based on the will of the public.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 27, 2010)