Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is facing its biggest crisis in years following a fundraising scandal that has further deepened the public’s distrust in politics.  

LDP Factions Look to Split After Indictment 

On Friday, Tokyo prosecutors filed indictments against eight people, including former and incumbent treasurers of the Kishida, Abe and Nikai factions. All eight are accused of violating the Political Funds Control Law by engaging in false accounting. While some were indicted without arrest, others received summary indictments, which means the court will be asked to decide whether to fine them without holding a trial. 

Following the indictments, three major factions — Kochikai, previously led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Seiwaken, formerly headed by Shinzo Abe, and Shisuikai, led by former LDP secretary general Toshihiro Nikai — announced they were disbanding. “I sincerely and deeply apologize for betraying the public’s trust,” said Ryu Shionoya, the chief coordinator of the Abe faction. He added, “It was a heartbreaking decision to close the curtain on the history of the Seiwaken.” Questions are now being asked as to what the other major factions in the party will do.  

Aso and Motegi Factions Stand Firm

No criminal cases have been brought against the three factions led by Taro Aso, Toshimitsu Motegi and Hiroshi Moriyama. According to sources close to the matter, former PM Aso informed Kishida that his faction, now the biggest in the party, won’t be disbanding. LDP Secretary-General Motegi is reportedly taking the same stance. “None of my faction’s members have been indicted,” said the LDP’s General Council Chairperson Moriyama. “We were following the debate within the party over how the factions should be handled. We want to discuss the matter and make a decision together.” 

The fundraising scandal came to light last December when the current PM and other members of the LDP were questioned by opposition lawmakers about the party’s misuse of campaign funds. Between 2018 and 2022, Seiwaken and Shisuikai allegedly failed to include some revenues from fundraising events in financial statements. The total amount is said to be around ¥670 million for the former and ¥260 million for the latter. Kochikai reportedly left out a total of about ¥30 million over three years up to 2020. The issue will no doubt dominate discussions when parliament convenes on Friday.

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