Hi Blog. Debito.org is currently on vacation while I am getting my next novel published, but this recent issue is germane enough to this blog that I’ll at least put the issue up and let people comment.
From the Japan Times (excerpt):
Monday, March 7, 2011
Maehara quits Cabinet over donations
Foreign minister leaves Kan in lurch before Group of Eight meet
By Masami Ito
Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara announced his resignation Sunday to take responsibility for illegally accepting donations from a foreign national, further damaging the already shaky Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan…
Last Friday, Maehara admitted receiving ¥50,000 in donations from a South Korean permanent resident of Japan who lives in Kyoto. But according to the Liberal Democratic Party, which brought up the issue during a Diet committee last Friday, the donations total ¥200,000 over the past four years.
Maehara said at the press conference that total donations from the person came to at least ¥250,000 over five years.
The Political Funds Control Law stipulates that it is illegal for politicians to accept contributions from non-Japanese residents and foreign companies. If found guilty, the politician could potentially face up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to ¥500,000, and also have his or her voting rights suspended.
According to Maehara, the donor owns a Korean barbecue restaurant in the neighborhood where he moved to while in junior high school in Yamashina, Kyoto Prefecture.
Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110307a1.html
Other articles with new angles and information are welcome. Please enclose entire text in Comments Section for the record.
COMMENT: As we’ve discussed on The Community:
A writes: Does anyone else get the impression from the media coverage of (now ex-) foreign minister Maehara’s dealings that the crime was not accepting money, but accepting money from foreigners?
D writes: Don’t most countries forbid donations from foreigners to politicians and political campaigns? Which, on the surface, seems pretty reasonable, given the danger of having foreign countries influence internal politics. That the woman in question was probably zainichi(?) raises the usual criticisms of why Koreans born in Japan are still considered “foreign”. But that seems like a separate issue this time. Yes, maybe she should be Japanese. Whether she is or isn’t, though, a law forbidding foreign investment into local politics seems pretty bog standard.
M writes: As a comparison, it is *illegal* to do this in America:
J writes: Not sure exactly what point you are trying to make, the page lists all sorts of activities, but specifically states that green card holders are exempt, which seems to be the closest analogue of the current case. FWIW, I think that in order for an individual to make a donation in the UK, they have to be on the electoral roll (which eg would rule me out, though I might also be ineligible due to non-residency).
B writes: [to Debito] I know you’re busy with your book, but I would love to read your thoughts about the situation with Foreign Minister Maehara and this rule/law about not allowing politicians to receive foreigners (even a Zainichi Korean). For one, it clearly demonstrates that foreigners with special status are STILL considered foreigners regardless, and two should draw attention to the fact that this rule is meant to prevent foreigners living in Japan from gaining political power through an activity like political (and in Maehara’s case possibly even a personal) donations–something that every politician relies on, no matter the country. I hope you’ll put up something on your site.
There you go. Does not Mindan also financially contribute to Japan’s political process? Arudou Debito