Japan prosecutors to investigate ruling party heavyweights over fundraising -Yomiuri

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese prosecutors will start investigating several dozen ruling party lawmakers, including current ministers, next week over unreported fundraising of over 100 million yen ($680,000), the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Thursday.

The scandal within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is another blow for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s unpopular administration which has seen its ratings sink below 30% in recent polls.

A spokesperson at the Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office said they were unable to answer questions on matters currently under investigation and declined further comment.

The probe focuses on funds raised by the biggest faction in the LDP which was once led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and both Trade Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno had overseen the faction’s bookkeeping in the past five years, the Yomiuri said.

Nishimura and Matsuno have in recent days declined to comment on allegations of improper fundraising.

The LDP’s secretary general, Toshimitsu Motegi, said this week that the leaders of the party’s factions have been told to scrutinise their funding reports and make corrections if necessary.

Prosecutors plan to begin questioning after the current session of parliament session ends on Dec. 13, the Yomiuri said.

($1 = 147.1600 yen)

(Reporting by Kantaro Komiya and Satoshi Sugiyama; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)