Japan's LDP set to discipline 39 members over fundraising scandal

Japan's main governing Liberal Democratic Party will hand out punishments for 39 members involved in a fundraising scandal at the party's ethics committee on Thursday.

The members subject to penalties are from the party's largest faction once led by the late Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, and another faction led by veteran lawmaker Nikai Toshihiro. They will be disciplined in connection with the failure to report fundraising revenues.

The Abe faction decided to drop the practice of kickbacks in April 2022, but it continued after four senior members discussed the matter months later. The party is considering heavy penalties for those four members.

It plans to urge two of them -- former education minister Shionoya Ryu and former LDP Upper House secretary-general Seko Hiroshige -- to leave the party. This is the second heaviest punishment under party rules after expulsion.

The other two -- former policy chief Shimomura Hakubun and former economy minister Nishimura Yasutoshi -- are to have their party membership suspended for one year, which is the third heaviest penalty.

Members whose undeclared revenue during a five-year period topped 20 million yen, or about 132,000 dollars, are expected to face suspension from party posts for one year. This includes former policy chief Hagiuda Koichi.

Members who failed to declare 5 million yen or more but less than 10 million yen will receive a reprimand.

Final discussions are underway on measures against former diet affairs chief Takagi Tsuyoshi and former chief cabinet secretary Matsuno Hirokazu of the Abe faction, and former internal affairs minister Takeda Ryota of the Nikai faction. They all served as their faction's secretary general.

Suspension of party membership for half a year is being considered for Takagi. Suspension from party posts for one year is being considered for Matsuno and Takeda.

Nagatsuma Akira, the policy chief of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, said the LDP should not put an end to the scandal by meeting out punishments without a full clarification.

Nagatsuma said the opposition is demanding that 10 of the members give sworn testimonies in the Diet and that these explanations should come before the punishments.

Nagatsuma also said he cannot understand why Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, who was the head of his own faction, is not being disciplined.