Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Closer Look at Hatoyama’s Political Finances

Anyone who wants to know more about Yukio Hatoyama’s personal political finances can look at the FY 2007 Yuai Seikei Konwa-Kai report as most recently corrected* You don’t have to be a Sankei Shinmun sympathizer to suspect that some donations from “individuals” that actually came from Hatoyama’s coffers remain uncorrected. (The rest of eh media does not appear to have reached that point yet, though even the liberal-leftish Chunichi Shinbun** isn’t accepting Hatoyama’s story.

Neither appealing to governance issues—the DPJ is the opposition—nor raising leadership questions—three words: Abe, Fukuda, and Aso—will turn the tide for the LDP, but nailing yet another DPJ leader for political financing irregularities once again just might cause enough floater voters to stay away from the ballot box or write in non-DPJ protest parties to keep the LDP-Komeito coalition in power. Thus, the best-case scenario for the LDP will be a half-hearted attempt by Hatoyama to hang tough, while grumbling within the DPJ remains low enough to allow him to keep his job—mirroring what is likely to be the situation in the LDP barring an unambiguous DPJ victory in the Tokyo Prefectural Assembly election on 12 July.

Hatoyama, of course, can stanch the bleeding by disclosing the list of under-50,000 yen donors or handing it over to a team of independent legal and accounting experts for a thorough check and showing that the under-50,000 donations were on the level. I believe that there will be increasing pressure from the media for him to do this.

Some details on the numbers follow for the truly interested.

Hatoyama’s FY2007 political finances as corrected now show that he received 49,926,000 yen in donations from individuals, Of the 21,860,000 yen in donations—two-fifths of the total—coming from the sixteen named donors, there were two donations totaling 9,000,000 yen from Hatoyama himself, eight 1,500,000 yen donations from eight donors including one from his Bridgestone heiress mother, two 1860,000 yen donations from one donor, two 100,000 yen donations, one 50,000 yen donation, and one 15,000 yen donation and one 10,000 yen donation—note that the name of the donor in each case did not require reporting. In other words, he and his mother accounted for almost half of the 50,000 yen-and-up donations. The 5,220,000 yen that Hatoyama now claims as a personal loan*** also deserves a close look. There are forty-eight such “donations”, one of which accounted for 500,000 yen. The rest mostly fell between 50,000-200,000 yen, with one each at 20,000 and 10,000 yen—amounts that did not require reporting. The last point in particular indicates that there may be more under-50,000 anonymous donors—accounting for 27,791,000 yen or three-fifths of the total—whose donations actually came out of Hatoyama’s political bank account controlled by the aide in question.

Incidentally, I have nothing against people spending as much of their own money as they want to get elected. As long as everything’s on the up and up, I’m cool with that; the electorate seems to have a way of separating the Bloombergs from the Forbeses. Ans if it doesn’t, tough sh!t. That being said, the law is the law, and Hatoyama is no different from me in that he is not allowed to donate more than 10 million yen each year to any personal political finance organization****.

* The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications website carries all available political finances reports as PDF files on this sub-portal. Enjoy.

** Although a local newspaper, it prints more copies than Sankei and leapfrogs ahead of Nikkei into fourth place (behind Yomiuri, Asahi, and Mainichi, I that order) if you add Tokyo Shinbun and two other affiliates.

*** This, as I explained in my previous post, is a dubious claim. I believe that it would be disallowed in bankruptcy proceedings.

**** Of course if you lift the ceiling, you also must close the massive gift-tax/inheritance-tax loophole that allows politicians to pass the political organization with its money and all to their heirs tax-free.

No comments: