Opposition party targets expense allowances


One of the big winners in the October 31 lower house election was Osaka-based Nippon Ishin no Kai, who tripled the number of seats he holds in parliament, making him the second-largest opposition force. after the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

In interviews following the poll, Nippon leader Ishin Ichiro Matsui, who is also the mayor of Osaka, said the party would oppose the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which is remarkable as many believed that he could join the ruling coalition because of his similar situation. political philosophy. In the past, Nippon Ishin’s candidates have received support from the LDP.

Nippon Ishin’s power is concentrated in Osaka, and his goal is to be a true national party, which means he has to stand out to be just that. One of his main means of achieving this is through tax reform, which he has carried out at the local level. The main setback in this regard has been the party’s failure to transform the city and prefecture of Osaka into a unified metropolis like Tokyo, which it says would save money by eliminating redundant public offices. .

Nippon Ishin wants to expand his cost reduction mission to central government, and his immediate goal is buntsÅ«salut, or the “correspondence allowance” that each legislator receives to help pay for things such as postage and transportation. The existing allowance is 1 million yen per month, regardless of the number of days the recipient works.

One of Nippon Ishin’s new lawmakers, Taisuke Ono, wrote on November 12 that he was intrigued by the allowance. Elected on October 31, he was a deputy for only one day in October, and thus received a salary equivalent to a day’s work. However, he also received the full correspondence allowance of 1 million yen. The LDP said it would work to get the money back.

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, deputy chief of Nippon Ishin, then tweeted that lawmakers didn’t even have to submit receipts showing how they spent the tax-free allowance. He found that the system lacked “common sense”.

Then, during the November 14 edition of the Fuji TV talk show “Nichiyo Hodo The Prime,” Nippon Ishin member and former Osaka Governor and Mayor Toru Hashimoto complained that the allowance system was broken and that it needed to be repaired if the public was to be convinced that the government was working to their advantage.

The mainstream media have mostly taken the comments at face value, but some media have reacted with derision, describing the boomerang effect of Nippon Ishin’s statements coming back to haunt him.

A Nov. 14 article on Litera, the media monitoring website, explained how Nippon Ishin has been targeting the allowance since 2014, when Hashimoto led the party.

In 2017, Nippon Ishin drafted a review of the applicable law to require reports on how the allowance is spent, but during that year, according to Asahi Shimbun’s analysis of reports that lawmakers submit on political funds, of the 280 million yen that Nippon Ishin members did not spend from his correspondence allowance, 64% was “donated” to their political support groups. In fact, eight of Nippon Ishin’s 25 lawmakers at the time indicated that 80% of their political support groups’ funds came from remaining allowance money.

As Litera noted, funds administered by political support groups are typically spent on things like dining out and buying tickets for political fundraisers. They are also sometimes “loaned” to politicians themselves or given to other political support groups within the same party.

In a November 20 article, Nikkan Gendai Digital reiterated the boomerang metaphor, saying Yoshimura didn’t seem to have a problem receiving the full monthly allowance when he was a legislator. Gendai also mentioned Nippon’s lawmaker Ishin Yasushi Adachi, who defended his habit of writing his own receipts for the remaining allowance funds he gives to his political group while also supporting the idea that the remaining allowances be returned. to the Treasury. Hashimoto, who helped establish Nippon Ishin, also tweeted his objections to “automatic receipts,” as the practice is called. Professor Hiroshi Kamiwaki of Kobe Gakuin University told Gendai that donating the allowance to a political support group is fundamentally illegal, although few are talking about it.

And, in 2019, during a Japan Press Club debate among party leaders over the Upper House elections that year, Matsui attempted to draw attention to the issue of allowances while berating the Japanese Communist Party for breaking an earlier promise to resolve it. The leader of the Japanese Communist Party, Kazuo Shii, immediately responded that the party published how it was spending the allowance on the party’s homepage, and that he was surprised Matsui did not know.

Akiko Oishi, who was also newly elected to the Lower House on October 31 under the Reiwa Shinsengumi party, understands the boomerang analogy intimately. She is a former Osaka Prefecture employee who has occasionally clashed with Hashimoto in public.

According to freelance journalist Hajime Yokota, discussing the issue in the Web Democracy Times news program, it was Oishi who first pointed out that Yoshimura six years ago delayed his resignation from parliament until day one. of the month just so he could allegedly claim the full 1 million yen allowance. Yokota also referred to a online chat between Hashimoto, Matsui and Yoshimura which took place shortly after Yoshimura’s resignation in which he made fun of the money.

It may seem strange that Nippon Ishin is trying to reform a system that he has used, abused or not, to his advantage. Maybe the party doesn’t really think the reform is going to happen, even though last week it announced it was planning to co-sponsor a bill that would require disclosure of how the allowance is spent. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

See www.philipbrasor.com for addenda to Media Mix contributions.

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