a big political scam
When compared to the enormous wealth in American politics, Japanese funding scandals can often seem ridiculously minor, such as that of Abe-era Justice Minister Midori Matsushima, who resigned after committing the sin of handing out paper fans to voters. .
However, the “kickback” case is already much bigger: senior officials are accused of hiding political money, which is being investigated by Tokyo prosecutors.
James Brady of the consulting firm Teneo says it “could become the most widespread scandal since the ‘Recruit’ affair,” referring to the insider trading episode of the late 1980s in which Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita and his entire cabinet were impeached. He lost his job – and subsequently helped the LDP suffer its first electoral defeat a few years later.
In the present case, the most recent controversy has been over Hirokazu Matsuno, who as Chief Cabinet Secretary holds the second most important role in the government. He is reported to have undisclosed some ¥10 million (US$69,000) in donations. Matsuno belonged to the faction led by Shinzo Abe before his death; Other senior people of the group are also believed to be involved in this.
It is true that despite his lack of direct involvement, Kishida has already unnecessarily involved himself in the scandal by moving away from his own party faction – creating an atmosphere of impropriety where none exists.
If the case continues, Kishida’s already disastrous poll numbers could drop to single digits. Reports indicate that he will respond by removing not only Matsuno, but all ministers and senior officials from the Abe faction, including Trade Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura.
But as the leader, the public can still blame Kishida. It’s time to consider taking some jujitsu lessons.