DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama’s issues with regard to his political finances management organization (PFMO) keep getting weirder. When he addressed the issue publicly on 2 July after completing an internal investigation employing a team of lawyers, he was left to guessing why the aide had used the names of unsuspecting acquaintances, some of them dead, to disguise illegal transfers from Hatoyama’s private account by recording them as donations from individuals in reports filed with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in compliance with legal requirements and available to the general public on the Internet*. I had been wondering why he or the team of lawyers hadn’t bothered to ask when, a week later, the saga took another turn as it was revealed that Hatoyama’s PFMO had sought and obtained from MIAC certificates that would enable a large number of these same unsuspecting individuals to claim tax credits for their donations. Now, at least some of these individuals—the ones who were alive at the time we assume—are claiming that yes, they had made those donations after all.
The best case scenario for the Hatoyama camp is that the “investigation” was so shoddy that the lawyers struck out a large number of individual donors without bothering to ask them if they had actually made those donations or not. The worst case scenario is that the aide obtained permission to use the names of Hatoyama acquaintances, and took the necessary measures to give them tax benefits as a quid pro quo, but forgot about that when he gave evidence during the internal investigation. In any case, like so many other “internal” investigations during institutional crises, it appears that the Hatoyama camp has avoided the kind of thorough process that uncovers questions that it would avoid if it only could. Except it couldn’t—wishing rarely makes things come true—and the result is a stream of embarrassing and often illegal revelations that could wind up destroying Hatoyama’s bid for the Prime Minister’s chair.
I think that attention will soon turn to what Hatoyama knew and when. He needs to explain himself, and do so soon, or he will be obliged to leave.
* It amazes me that the LDP and DPJ have not been using the information on the MIAC website to better political advantage. Is this a Japanese politics version of the MAD doctrine? But shouldn’t at least the JCP and Socialists be doing something about this?