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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007

Parties reach deal on expenses disclosure

Staff writer

The ruling bloc and three opposition parties reached a final deal Tuesday on legislation that would require all political organizations linked to Diet members to keep receipts for every spending item of any amount — except salaries.

The proposed measure is aimed at increasing transparency in political expenses amid repeated money scandals involving Cabinet ministers and lawmakers.

Under an earlier revision of the Political Funds Control Law — to take effect next month — only Diet members' political fund management bodies would be required to submit receipts for expenditures of ¥50,000 or more. The revision, which only had the backing of the ruling bloc, has been criticized as insufficient to ensure transparency.

The new bill will be jointly submitted to the Diet by the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan and Social Democratic Party.

Another small opposition party, Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), said it will vote for the bill, while the Japanese Communist Party indicated it will oppose it.

The parties hope to enact the bill during the current extraordinary Diet session, which now looks certain to be extended beyond its scheduled close Saturday. The new requirements would be introduced Jan. 1, 2009, according to Tuesday's agreement among the five parties.

"We calculated the time (needed to prepare for the new system) and came up with the implementation date because we wanted to build a reliable system," said Kenji Kosaka, the LDP's deputy chief of Diet affairs.

The bill would require all political organizations related to Diet members to submit receipts for expenditures of more than ¥10,000, excluding salaries, and a political funding report to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry or prefectural election administration commissions. The information will be disclosed to the public.

For expenses of ¥10,000 or less, political organizations would be obliged to keep receipts that must be disclosed upon request.

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The Japan Times

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