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Politics

Japan's splintered Democrats to lock away war chest

Remaining party members to inherit the funds

| Japan

TOKYO -- Japan's fractured Democratic Party is keeping its war chest of more than 10 billion yen ($87.8 million) all to itself.

Democratic chief Seiji Maehara is expected to announce his intention not to transfer the funds to either of the leading opposition parties at a joint plenary meeting of both Diet houses Friday.

Japan's recent snap election saw Democratic lower house candidates split between Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike's Kibo no To, or Party of Hope, and the more liberal Constitutional Democratic Party. The question for Maehara then became what to do with his party's coffers. He appears to have decided that diverting taxpayer-provided funds to another party would likely draw criticism.

Maehara had originally thought that after the election, Democrats in both houses would join forces with the Party of Hope and transfer the funds. But upper house members who remained in the Democratic Party and were wary of him moving the money began calling for his early resignation as chief.

Maehara plans to keep the Democratic Party alive for now and will entrust its coffers to remaining members, keeping their criticism in mind.

Each year, roughly 32 billion yen in public funds is distributed among Japanese political parties in accordance with the number of Diet seats they control and national election results.

Opponents from other parties had also voiced concern. "It would be a problem if taxpayer money given to the Democratic Party goes to another party," said an official of Komeito, the ruling coalition's junior partner.

(Nikkei)

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