February 28, 2015(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: 'Ignorance' no excuse for ministers' political funding scandals
社説:大臣とカネ 「知らない」では済まぬ

A string of political funding scandals have hit ministers in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the wake of Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Koya Nishikawa's resignation.
ますます深刻な事態である。西川公也前農相の辞任に続き、安倍内閣の閣僚に関連した政治資金問題が次々と明るみに出ている。

The government is trying to weather the storm by insisting the ministers were "unaware" that state subsidies were being paid to the entities that made questionable donations to their party chapters. The administration is, in other words, pleading ignorance, and we cannot ignore this paper-thin excuse.
そんな中、とりわけ看過できないのは、政権側が「知らなかった」という弁明で乗り切ろうとしている点である。

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) branch offices headed by Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki and Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa, respectively, accepted political donations from a logistics firm that had recently received government subsidies.
望月義夫環境相と上川陽子法相がそれぞれ代表を務める自民党支部は、国の補助金交付が決まっていた地元の同じ総合物流会社から政治献金を受けていた。

The Political Funds Control Act bans companies and organizations from making political donations within a year from a subsidy announcement.
政治資金規正法は補助金の交付決定を受けた企業や団体に1年間、政治献金を禁じている。

Government subsidies derive from taxpayers' money, and for subsidized companies and organizations to make donations could constitute funneling some of that tax money to politicians.
補助金は税金であり、それを受けた企業や団体が献金するのは税金が政治家に還流する形となりかねないからだ。

This goes to the heart of potential collusion between politicians and industries.
「政治家と業界の癒着」につながる根本的な問題といえ、

Nishikawa resigned his portfolio over a similar donation scandal.
西川氏の辞任も同様の献金問題がきっかけだった。

The Political Funds Control Act bans politicians from accepting contributions from donors they know to be subsidy recipients.
ただし、同法は政治家側に対しては補助金の交付を知りつつ献金を受けてはならないと規定している。

In other words, politicians cannot be accused of violating the law as long as they are unaware of the subsidies.
つまり知らなければ違反にならないというわけだ。

Mochizuki and Kamikawa have thus emphasized that they had no idea about the subsidies going to the logistics company, and that the donations were not illegal.
望月氏らが「補助金交付は知らなかった。だから違法でない」と強調するのはそのためだ。

The political funding scandals, however, surfaced after news organizations checked publicly available political funding documents and reported on them.
だが、一連の問題は報道各社が調査・取材して判明したものだ。

It shouldn't have been difficult for the politicians themselves to learn of the problems in advance.
当事者である政治家側が事前に把握するのは不可能ではないはずだ。

If the political funds law provides a seedbed for negligence among politicians and is harnessed merely as a source of convenient excuses, the law should be made stricter so that such donations are held illegal even if politicians were "unaware" of certain subsidies.
逆に今の規正法が政治家側の怠慢を生み、言い逃れに利用されているとすれば、この際、「知らなくても違反」と法改正し、厳格化すべきである。

Hakubun Shimomura, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, is accused of possibly violating the law after his support groups -- known as Hakuyukai -- failed to report themselves as political organizations. Furthermore, an LDP chapter he heads was also found to have accepted funds from non-Japanese citizens -- another violation of the law.
下村博文文部科学相は、同氏を支援している各地の団体「博友会」が政治団体として届け出をせず、同法違反の可能性が指摘されているほか、同法で禁じられている外国人からの寄付なども明らかになった。

In the meantime, Nishikawa had also received nearly 10 million yen in consulting fees from a state-subsidized company over a four-year period, according to documents filed with the Diet following his resignation.
一方、西川氏については辞任後に国会に提出した資料で、補助金を受けていた会社から約4年間で1000万円近い顧問料を受けていたことが明らかになった。

When Yuko Obuchi stepped down as minister of economy, trade and industry over shady political spending last fall, she remarked, "There's no way I can be spared just by saying I didn't know about it."
昨秋、不透明な政治資金支出で小渕優子前経済産業相が閣僚を辞任する際、「知らなかったでは済まされない」と語った。

Alas, she has yet to file a detailed report over the issue, which she promised to do at the time of her resignation. Is she in the belief that everything is settled because she was re-elected in the December House of Representatives election?
ところが、その後の衆院選で再選されたから決着済みということなのか、辞任時に約束していた詳細な調査報告をいまだにしていない。

Just like Obuchi, Nishikawa and Mochizuki joined the Abe Cabinet in a reshuffle last fall.
西川、望月両氏も小渕氏と同様、昨秋発足した第2次安倍改造内閣で入閣している。

They should by no means have forgotten other funding scandals they faced at the time.
その時にも今回とは別の資金問題が指摘されていたのを忘れたわけではあるまい。

When the third Abe Cabinet was formed following the last lower house election, didn't the ministers and Prime Minister Abe check their financial backgrounds carefully?
第3次安倍内閣の組閣に当たり、本人も安倍晋三首相らも厳密にチェックをしなかったのだろうか。

While the ministers are trying to slip out of the net with their new favorite refrain, "I didn't know," Prime Minister Abe has only reiterated, "Politicians in both the ruling and opposition camps should fulfill their accountability."
「知らなかった」で済まそうとする閣僚に対し、安倍首相は「与野党ともに政治家は自ら説明責任を」などと繰り返すだけだ。

What other motive could they have for putting on that kind of attitude than the arrogance gleaned from a landslide lower house election victory?
衆院選で大勝したおごりというほかない。

毎日新聞 2015年02月28日 02時31分

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