Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre: Let's Face It, Politics Costs Money

The political expenses controversy continues to spread beyond the Office Expenses 6 to implicate more politicians, this time the Deputy Speaker of the House of Councilors and DPJ faithful Yoshikazu Tsunoda. Apparently, his electoral campaign headquarters had neglected to report \25.2M in political contribution receipts.

Now neither the I'm-not-going-to-give-you-the-details-because-the-law-says-I-don't-have-to from Mr. Matsuoka nor the hither-and-yonder meanderings from Mr. Ibuki, the cabinet ministers who have been sucked in to the scandal, are very convincing, and the controversies surrounding them promise to linger well into the Diet session and beyond. Thus, I understand that it is tempting to suggest that there are sinister forces behind the appearance of the names of DPJ worthies like Mr. Tsunoda, Mr. Ogawa and Mr. Matsumoto. But it would be absurd to think that the JMSM would not go to the publicly available records and do what any self-respecting journalist would do under the circumstances. So why not go with the simple explanation? Now, someone may have tipped off some reporter, somewhere, sometime. But that is trivial, now that the wolf packs are on the loose.

If I were the DPJ, I would conduct a through investigation of its finances, then go all in with a disclosure hand when the Diet session begins, regardless of the consequences to individual politicians. That includes Mr. Ozawa. The DPJ cannot be seen as a co-conspirator in a cover up. It may suffer casualties of its own, but it needs to seize this issue. The LDP has the money; the DPJ should not lose the debate.

Ultimately though, the public must recognize that politics is expensive. We must bring it aboveboard.

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