Revised political funding control bill passes Japan's Diet

Japan's Diet has enacted a bill to revise the political funds control law.

The bill was approved at the Upper House plenary session on Wednesday with a majority in favor. The main ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its partner Komeito and others supported the bill.

Opposition parties voted against. That included the Japan Innovation Party, which had voted in favor in the Lower House vote.

The enacted legislation mandates that lawmakers confirm in a document the contents of their political funds reports. This is to introduce a system of "guilt by association."

The minimum threshold for disclosing the names of those who purchase fundraiser tickets will be lowered to 50,000 yen, or about 320 dollars. The current minimum is 200,000 yen, or about 1,280 dollars.

Lawmakers will be asked to report how and when the policy activity funds provided by their party were used. They will be required to disclose the receipts and other relevant documents 10 years later.

In a debate before the vote, Sato Masahisa, a Liberal Democrat, said the legislation is a big step forward as it aims at correcting political funding practices instead of limiting them.

He said he believes that the revised law will contribute to making political funds more transparent and appropriate while ensuring freedom of political activities.

Mizuoka Shunichi of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party said the legislation not only failed to regain public trust but further spread distrust and anxiety among the public.

He criticized the LDP for failing to address complaints that the law is full of loopholes and undermining the goal of the law.

Otokita Shun of the Japan Innovation Party criticized the LDP for breaking an earlier promise made with his party during talks on passing the bill. He was referring to disclosing how public allowances paid to Diet members are used.

He said the LDP has helped lawmakers retain their privileges, calling it a grave betrayal of the public. He said the LDP's dishonesty gives ample reason to oppose the bill.

Opposition parties voting against the legislation in the Upper House included the Constitutional Democratic Party, the Japan Innovation Party, Japanese Communist Party, Democratic Party for the People, Reiwa Shinsengumi, Free Education for All, Social Democratic Party, Sanseito, and others.

The bill was submitted by the LDP following a funding scandal involving some of the party's factions. The original bill was amended during the Lower House debate to incorporate demands from Komeito and the Japan Innovation Party.

The legislation stipulates that details about how to ensure third-party checks of policy activity funds reports should be debated later. Attention is focused on whether an effective system will actually be created.