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Olympic minister's LDP branch received fundraising fees over cap

Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Yoshitaka Sakurada heads to a Cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office on Nov. 20, 2018. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

CHIBA -- A ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) local branch headed by Olympic minister Yoshitaka Sakurada received 2 million yen from a group as fees for his fundraising party in excess of the cap set under the Political Funds Control Act, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

The LDP's Chiba No. 8 constituency branch accepted 2 million yen from the National Vision Research Institute, a Tokyo-based group making policy proposals, as fees for Sakurada's political fundraiser in April 2017, according to his office and other sources. The amount was 500,000 yen more than the legal limit.

The branch subsequently reimbursed the 500,000 yen on Nov. 19 and corrected an entry in its political funding report for the transaction the same day.

Under the Political Funds Control Act, the maximum amount of fees that can be accepted from an organization for fundraising parties is limited to 1.5 million yen per event. A representative of Sakurada's office commented, "We were aware of the cap amount, but the person in charge was so busy that they received the fees as they were."

The Chiba prefectural election administration commission released the corrected version of the LDP branch's political funding report on Nov. 20.

According to the financial report, the fundraiser was held on May 24, 2017, under the theme "A gathering to encourage Yoshitaka Sakurada 2017." The National Vision Research Institute had paid the fees in question prior to the event, on April 24 that year.

A high-ranking official of the National Vision Research Institute disclosed to the Mainichi, "The then leader of the institute, who was also serving as a board member of Sakurada's political group, told me to pay fees for at least 100 participants. I transferred money so the fees would be 20,000 yen per person. Although I used the institute's account, the money actually derived from the leader's personal funds."

(Japanese original by Buntaro Saito, Chiba Bureau)

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