Towards Reiwa Political Reform — An Analysis of the Consequences of Japan’s Political Funding Issue

At the end of 2023, Japanese politics were thrown into upheaval by a political funding scandal involving the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s Seiwakai (hereafter, the Abe faction) and Shisuikai (hereafter, the Nikai faction). The authorities suspect that both factions failed to appropriately declare income from fundraising events (政治資金パーティー) and expenditures (donations to some MPs) in the relevant political fund reports (政治資金収支報告書). Diet members who sold tickets exceeding their allotted quotas for the political fundraisers organized by their respective factions supposedly received the excess funds generated as kickbacks without proper settlements of accounts. In addition, those under investigation in the Abe faction allegedly did not declare the amount of money donated by the faction in their own political fund reports, either. The prosecutors are currently undertaking a full-scale investigation into this matter.

In this paper, Naoki Takiguchi (Senior Programme Manager / Political Analyst for the Country Programme Japan of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung) analyzes this issue, providing personal insights and observations, as well as his own thoughts on the future for political reform in the Reiwa era.

Abe’s Long Shadow- Japan Struggles Toward a Political Awakening

Fumio Kishida was confirmed in office as prime minister at the constituent session of the new parliament on 10 November. In her sixteen years in office, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel has seen a total of ten Japanese prime ministers come and go. Fumio Kishida, the 101st prime minister, is unlikely to meet her in person again, yet the numbers speak volumes with regard to Japan’s rotating government. The concern that Japan will once again fall into a long period of changing prime ministers is justified, as the Abe era weighs heavily on the party and the government.