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Money matters: Contrasting characters of Abe, Ishiba emerge in approach to fundraising

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and former Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba shake hands as they attend a joint press conference to explain their policies for the upcoming LDP presidential election at the party headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo on Sept. 10, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The two candidates in the Sept. 20 presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 63, and former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, 61, have not displayed any significant differences in policies to date. But when it comes to their assets and political funds, they stand in contrast.

Abe has far more personal assets than Ishiba. According to a report that was made public in April, Abe's total worth was 103.96 million yen while Ishiba's was 15.55 million yen. Real estate is where the premier has strength, owning 58 items worth 77.69 million yen on a property tax base amount, which is normally about 50 to 70 percent of the market price. Abe inherited most of the properties; the only one not inherited was his second house in the village of Narusawa in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo. In contrast, Ishiba has just one piece of real estate to his name: his home in the city of Tottori in western Japan.

As for golf memberships, Abe has eight, but Ishiba, who has said in media interviews that he doesn't play the sport, has none.

In addition, Abe has a bigger fundraising capacity than Ishiba, according to the 2016 political funds reports of the LDP branches headed respectively by the two politicians and their fund management bodies. Abe raised 146.45 million yen over the year, while Ishiba collected about half that amount -- 73.74 million yen.

Ishiba's fund management body, "Ishiba Shigeru Seikei Konwa Kai" (Shigeru Ishiba political and economic dialogue group) earned 43.35 million yen by throwing three fundraising parties and publishing an email magazine for a fee. In February 2011, Ishiba organized a fundraiser where participants paid 10,000 yen each to have a plate of curry and rice. It appears that he has a rather modest method and scale of collecting money.

Abe's fund management body "Shinwa-kai," meanwhile, has each year organized three "breakfast gatherings" at a fancy hotel in Tokyo. Those events attracted a total of 1,037 people in 2016, and the Abe camp raised 68.29 million yen through them, meaning that each participant paid about 60,000 yen or more on average for the breakfast. However, Abe himself has often not showed up at these events since becoming prime minister, say people knowledgeable about the gatherings.

(Japanese original by Shusaku Sugimoto, City News Department)

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