Japan Today
politics

Maehara says he got Y590,000 from foreigners in 2005-2010

57 Comments

Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, who is one of five candidates vying for the Democratic Party of Japan presidency to replace Prime Minister Naoto Kan, on Saturday held a news conference to explain the political fund scandal that forced him to step down in March.

Maehara quit the Kan cabinet after admitting to receiving around 590,000 yen in donations from ethnic Koreans, including a restaurant owner and family friend since his childhood, on five occasions between 2005 and 2010, which is banned under the Political Funds Control Law.

Maehara said the funds were returned. He also said that the donors have been living in Japan under their Japanese names for decades and that his aides who were responsible for handling the donations had no way of knowing they were foreign nationals.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

57 Comments
Login to comment

Maehara said the funds were returned. He also said that the donors have been living in Japan under their Japanese names for decades and that his aides who were responsible for handling the donations had no way of knowing they were foreign nationals.

Can someone explain to me why our draconian/outdated/ass-backward government insist in treating/label people who have been born and living here generation after generation as FOREIGNERS?!? I'm sorry but I'm not very well educated in "Zainichi" issues since I normally see all of them as japanese citizens. Fact is that I've been told I'm not "REAL" japanese since I was born in Okinawa. LOL Not that I would care anyway.(笑) (^_~)

11 ( +17 / -6 )

Groups who've lived in Japan for generations and generations, speak Japanese as a first language, and have Japanese names, still being referred to as FOREIGNERS reveals so much about this country.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

But, you know what? If this Maehara guy has "friends" who are korean at all, he should not be in charge. I mean HONESTLY!?!?! A foreign friend, whatever would the cabinet say? We could not have a prime minister with such crazy ideas....

Seriously though ... If these people want to be Japanese nationals they can be. It is easy for them to naturalize, but they just don't want to. BUT they do want to use Japanese names .... seems like they want their cake and eat it too. At the end of the day, they are not Japanese citizens, but that is their choice.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

He's trying to preempt any ensuing criticism. You have to hope people will judge on his merits and record and not this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

BlueWitchAug. 28, 2011 - 07:35AM JST

Can someone explain to me why our draconian/outdated/ass-backward government insist in treating/label people who have been born and living here generation after generation as FOREIGNERS?!?

Because those people refuse to take Japanese citizenship? Mind you, I think some don't because they don't want to change their name, which they should not have to. Indeed, there should be another word for them, but there isn't.

himehentaiAug. 28, 2011 - 07:57AM JST

seems like they want their cake and eat it too.

Oh, no. You have it backwards. Its the government that wants that. I know of no other country that requires a name change to become a citizen. In many ways Japan plays at being a member of the international community, but in many ways it refuses to join. Names are part of people's family history, thus why Alberto Fujimori did not change his name to Fuentez when he became a citizen of Peru.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

And minding these particular people, Japan does not have the rule that those born on Japanese soil are automatic citizens, and these people refuse to become citizens (even though they have changed their names). They could apply, but they don't. The Japanese government is only partly to blame for the situation in their case.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Its the government that wants that. I know of no other country that requires a name change to become a citizen. In many ways Japan plays at being a member of the international community, but in many ways it refuses to join. Names are part of people's family history, thus why Alberto Fujimori did not change his name to Fuentez when he became a citizen of Peru.

Outrageous!!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It is illegal for Japanese politicians to receive donations from non-Japanese. That's why this is significant

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It is illegal for Japanese politicians to receive donations from non-Japanese

wish it is applied to tax collection also.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

It is illegal for Japanese politicians to receive donations from non-Japanese. That's why this is significan

And how are you going to know whether or not the person donating the money is Japanese or not? I can not blame Maehara for this one. Him, like many politicians all over the world receive donations from all sorts of people and he literally can not personally check where each and every donation comes from.

His staff is responsible for that, and while he is ultimately the one who has to take responsibility, he did the right thing by returning the money when it came to light.

On another note, how are you going to check someone who is a childhood friend, has a Japanese name, and wants to donate money to your campaign, on whether or not they are Japanese? Would you be so crass as to actually ask?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Oracle, im gonna have to correct u. im an arab canadian. In the late 80´s we were forced to add an AL- or EL- to our last name upon entering the country as landed immigrants and kept unchanged upon reveiving citizenship/passport.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As long as it wasn't a bribe or done for the sake of doing favors, I don't see anything with receiving a donation from anyone. I don't see the reason why the should change their names to be accepted as nationals, yet they will always face prejudice and racism in this country. Most politicians are dumb, and so do the people who elect them. Japanese if they really hate donations and other things from foreigners, they should just live in their island and never get anything from the other country......It just doesn' make any sense...

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japanese is Nationality ( Kokuseki ) ...If someone having Japanese Kokuseki.. He / She Japanese...that's all. I do not like to hear a Japanese race...or a Korean race...Chinese race.(.Minsoku).. and they are from same Origin. Mongoloid..

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It isn't all that hard to understand why donations to politicians from foreigners is against the law. Japan is not the only country that outlaws it either.

Personally I hope that Maehara gets elected to the Presidency of the party and becomes the next PM, anyone besides a Ozawa crony.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Bloody foreigners, bunch of criminals! They corrupt our society with their money (except taxes)!

Oh wait, this isn't about Ishihara. Or is it? Who blew the gaijin whistle on Maehara in the first place?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Very cheap slave ...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Can a Korean person automatically become a Japanese if born in Japan? Do you have to wait several generations in order to attain citizenship? I'm happy that Maeharasan has Korean friends. I'm sure that he knew the supporter was Korean, and assumed she was a citizen because she spoke perfect Japanese and probably alluded that her family was living in Japan for several generations.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Because those people refuse to take Japanese citizenship? Mind you, I think some don't because they don't want to change their name, which they should not have to. Indeed, there should be another word for them, but there isn't.

Um, the fact of the matter is that the Japanese imperial government decided to strip them of Japanese citizenship after the war, while allowing them to stay indefinitely. It's the matter of political convenience. What makes the issue complicating is that many of those zainichi residents are getting into third generation or later--which means that they were born and raised in Japan, speak Japanese as first language, and educated in Japanese K-12 school (just like native born Japanese). Yet, they are still subjected to foreigner, and hence they need to go to a ward office to obtain ARC (Alien Registration Card) due to their family's background.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It is illegal for Japanese politicians to receive donations from non-Japanese. That's why this is significant

It's not that the funds were handed to Maehara himself, nor that he had asked for it. This case is seriously unimportant and I felt sorry for the man when I saw him making apologies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Problem is Japans fault for its archaic approach to everything.

And

Make it a crime to accept donations full stop ! After all they are bribes in reality anyway.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"He also said that the donors have been living in Japan under their Japanese names for decades and that his aides who were responsible for handling the donations had no way of knowing they were foreign nationals."

Yeah, it's not his fault for accepting money from a person he KNOWS is ethnic Korean -- it's his aides fault he accepted it willingly. So it's either a) he knew it and is responsible, or b) he is unaware of the laws regarding such matter. Either way he's unfit to be PM.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

presto345: "It's not that the funds were handed to Maehara himself, nor that he had asked for it."

You mean the man didn't take it upon himself to look into and/or thank the people who were giving him money for FIVE years?? Sounds a rather pathetic excuse to me.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Systemic corruption, 500'000 yen is not allot compared to his salary but the systemic corruption of these old lazy men is on a scale that can only compare with Afganistan. Finally Japan is in a global top 5. Great job!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It's the law weather some people think it is right or wrong. He broke it. We have jails for law breakers. He could become the next PM of the worlds number three country, this is a serious job and their is no place for criminals. This law is a great one. Imagine if for example, in the middle of a debate on American bases in Okinawa, some Americas gave "donations" to politicians who then voted in the Americans favour? It is the law for a reason. He can join Horimon in the clink.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

So we can't donate to a party but they can take our taxes once in office? Honest to god the need to sort this crap out. I am hoping Maehara gets to be the next PM. He's the only one that gives me any sort of hope.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

How dare these foreigners expect to be represented in the government that decides how much tax they pay and which fingers to get scanned anytime they wish to fly?

What do they think this place is? A democracy? We Japanese are the only people allowed to bribe the elite. That's the way we like it in this feudal kharzi.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

We have jails for law breakers

Do you know who needs to go there first? Go figure... O.Z.A.W.A!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What do they think this place is? A democracy? We Japanese are the only people allowed to bribe the elite. That's the way we like it in this feudal kharzi.

I think you mean "plutocracy" instead of democracy. And the Japanese law prohibits anyone--regardless of nationality or ethnicity--from passing the 'buck' to politicians.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What is a difference between a political donation and a bribe in Japan? Can anyone answer?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Yubaru: "Personally I hope that Maehara gets elected to the Presidency of the party and becomes the next PM, anyone besides a Ozawa crony."

Agree that an Ozawa crony shouldn't be elected, but lest we forget Maehara went crawling to Ozawa and Hatoyama but three days ago to seek approval for becoming PM.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yubaru: "I can not blame Maehara for this one."

Did he know she is ethnic Korean or not?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If Maehara becomes prime minister ... he won't last long. The Liberal Democrats and New Komeito people will tear him apart ... although they, too, tend to quietly accept money from "foreigners."

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

BlueWitchAug. 28, 2011 - 08:36AM JST [Its the government that wants that. I know of no other country that requires a name change to become a citizen. In many ways Japan plays at being a member of the international community, but in many ways it refuses to join. Names are part of people's family history, thus why Alberto Fujimori did not change his name to Fuentez when he became a citizen of Peru.] Outrageous!! ]

ludicrous propaganda. i acutually know many ethnic koreans who did NOT change their name when they obtained japanese citizenship. for example, owner of Maruhan, pachinko empire headquartered in kyoto, is still 韓昌祐. (He is typical in that he smuggled into japan illegally shortly after the korean independence, then acqiried privilaged "special" permanent resident status as an ethnic korean, and eventually decided to obtain the citizenship. unlike many others, he just chose to use the same korean name.) http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%9F%93%E6%98%8C%E7%A5%90 owner of softbank also didn't change his name. many, many examples.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Accross Europe and as far as I know the continent of America name changes are not a requirement for permanent citizenship. It is not even nessassary in Europe for a married woman to change her sirname to that of her husband.Ethnic appearences may define that a persons original cultural background is not inherited from the locality in which they dwell, but, that is all. Europe thankfully cotinues to be a melting pot.and polititions are free to accept limited amounts of political donations from the general public as it is not against the law.A foriegner would not be an acceptable term to descibe generations born here irrigardless of their ancestors country of origin.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Christina, as i wrote before you, it is a ludicrous propaganda. many korean people, who smuggled into japan illegally after their independence, had no problem acquiring the privilaged "special" permanent resident status for koreans, and then getting Japanese citizenship without changing their name. 韓昌祐, who built the Maruhan pachinko empire, is just one of the most well-known examples.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Did he know she is ethnic Korean or not?

Well if the article is to be believed I would guess not. Just a guess but maybe he figured they were naturalized Japanese citizens seeing as how they did have Japanese names and as far as he knew were born and raised in Japan?!?!?

If Maehara becomes prime minister ... he won't last long

Whomever gets elected PM is not going to last long. I'd wager a bet that within the next 12 months the same discussion is going to be had. The PM here is a revolving door position. Maybe it would be a great time for the Great Houdini Ozawa to take the lead and become PM so he could get canned and fall totally out of the picture once and for all. He probably realizes that behind the scenes he wields more power than if he stepped up to the front. PM's here are one and done.

Bring back Koizumi!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I know of no other country that requires a name change to become a citizen.

Japan doesn't require a name change for nationality. You just have to be able to write it in the local writing system - same as anywhere else in the world. Go to Europe or America and you cannot register your name as, say, 菅直人or محمود احمدی‌نژاد; the people processing your papers need to be able to read that your name is Kan Naoto or Mahmūd Ahmadinezhād.

In fact Japan is perhaps more flexible; my name on my bank books, credit cards, etc., is the same as on my UK passport, ie in roman script; I very much doubt that a Japanese going to the UK would be able to have a bank account or credit card with his name written in kanji.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@JapanGal and other groupies.

News commentary forums are not popularity contests. Seems like some of you people are trying to detract from the NEWS aspect of this article. Are you people conspiring to undermine the rational discussion of the issues?

A lot of Koreans are hostile to Japan because of the colonization.

Koreans don't have to change their names, just adopt the Japanese phonetic reading for the Chinese characters in which their names are written.

Maehara obviously was aware of the rules beforehand, and should have simply declined the donations. So why didn't he?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

the donors have been living in Japan under their Japanese names for decades and that his aides who were responsible for handling the donations had no way of knowing they were foreign nationals. .................................

bet you they will know once marriage is involved. Question....................., do they still check up on the family pedigree before they get married ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maehara obviously was aware of the rules beforehand, and should have simply declined the donations. So why didn't he?

There is no where in the article that states that he personally received the donations, only that his aides were responsible for handling the money.

He of course knew the rules, but one has to assume that he knew they were Korean and not Japanese to be able to make the claim that he should not have accepted. There are plenty of Koreans living and working in Japan that many people would have no idea of their being foreigners by just looking at them or talking with them.

Bad form to make the assumption otherwise I would think.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Yubaru: "He of course knew the rules, but one has to assume that he knew they were Korean and not Japanese to be able to make the claim that he should not have accepted."

So this woman, who's been a family friend for a long time and whom he knows well... you're saying he had no idea she was Korean?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thank you dear, you have no idea the burden that comes with being "popular"(?) in a forum like this...lol(笑) (many thumbs down, negative replies..the works!) Anyhow, The fact of the matter is that people born and living in this country for decades, that is gen after gen..should have many, if not all, the rights same as japanese citizens. Still, the name changing things is odd. I had no idea you are to change your name if you naturalize in here. Oh wow. I thought you could keep your name as it is. Is there any other country that does this? Anyone, please feel free to educate me. (^_^)

Do you actually know that these people qualify for Japanese citizenship but don't take up that rightful privilege? and yet they want to have the same rights (but not the same obligations) as the Japanese with their Korean passports. Guess what, the government IS listening all the while continuing to ignore the fact it is still legal to refuse white and black Japanese citizens from entering bath houses.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

High treasons

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Bring back Koizumi!

Horrific idea! He's no better than the other - just more charismatic. If anything, we're going to get his silver spoon in mouth son soon enough.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

remarkable in that his amount is the daily allowance Hatapopo gets from his mom and is also the same amount that falls out of Ozawa's pockets when he gets out of a cab.

This whole issue is stupid and is reported by the lapdog press to support their corporate overlords.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

¥590,000 is pocket change compared to the countless millions Ozawa has gotten by nefarious means. But Ozawa will soon be back in the driver's seat with his puppet, "Weepy" Kaieda and Maehara will be reamed royally.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Y590,000? My suit cost more than that, ha ha!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In fact Japan is perhaps more flexible; my name on my bank books, credit cards, etc., is the same as on my UK passport, ie in roman script

@cleo

My name has an apostrope, which is used on my passport but not on my Japanese ID documents or Japanese bankbook. You can imagine the bureaucratic rigamaroles with that one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You know, as ugly as those dumb protesters are, Maehara's overwhelming popularity shows that they are just an irrelevant faction thankfully. No one serious believes this to be a offense.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So this woman, who's been a family friend for a long time and whom he knows well... you're saying he had no idea she was Korean?

Well I can state that I had a friend that I grew up with, went to grammar school, high school, and has been a close friend of mine for nearly 50 years now was not a citizen of the country that I am originally from. He looked like me, Caucasian, spoke English like me, had a very common family name, and I never knew until his mother died a few years back that he never was a citizen of the country where we both grew up in and lived.

So yeah, from experience, I would give him, Maehara, the benefit of the doubt, and not assume anything that he knew that his friends were nothing other than Japanese. I was never so crass as to ask one of my best friends if he was a citizen, and he never offered to say either. It was none of my business.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Smithinjapan - fear not - the meeting with Ozawa took 10 minutes and afterwards, Ozawa told supporters that "if Maehara wins, Japan will collapse." So I suspect there wasn't a lot of hugging and kissing going on there.

Maehara's political funding violations were less serious than Kan's, certainly - they were from individuals he knew and did not know were not naturalized. Kan took much more money, from groups, including groups with links to North Korea. The earthquake saved him from impeachment in March.

I like Maehara for the way he handled his tenure as Minister of Transport, and the way he handled China while Foreign Minister during the drunken Chinese sailor flap. Given his rabid anti-Ozawa credentials, he will bring the DPJ to an end when it loses the next house election next year, but I think everyone agrees by now that this is for the best - the party is more interested in in-fighting and factional politics than it is in keeping its election promises and helping people in Tohoku. I actually think it has turned out to be worse than the LDP would have been. Maehara is a good guy, he won't take any crap from bureaucrats or China, and will most likely result in there being a clean end to the DPJ, giving the chance for the opposition to spend a few years again reorganizing into opposition parties that are more viable and trustworthy alternatives to the LDP.

As for the questions about zainichis - please Google people. This stuff gets raised over and over again. Zainichi residents (special permanent residents) have a fast track naturalization path to citizenship if they opt for it. Mindan and Chosen Soren (the South Korean and North Korean citizen's groups in Japan) are opposed to automatic citizenship for their members, and aside from the administrative fee and the criminal background check, there is no barrier to any zainichi born in Japan switching allegiance to Japan - and increasing numbers of young zainichi Koreans in particular are doing this. Any Zainichi in Japan right now is one because they choose not to become Japanese as they are entitled. That's fine, but they know that Japan, like other countries including the US prohibits political funding by foreign nationals. And don't forget also that the vast majority of countries in the world do not recognize automatic citizenship by birth - only a handful of countries with empires, and colonies for whom this approach facilitated conquest and subjugation of indigenous people.

So yeah, Maehara did wrong, and he will get pounded by the opposition for this. But still, I agree what he did wasn't very serious as these things go, and he already "took responsibility" for it when he resigned as foreign minister (not a great job to have while taking foreign national political donations).

I like Ozawa, but I would never back the minister of METI who oversaw the debacle of how the Kan cabinet is mishandling the situation with refugees and cleanup in Tohoku. I wouldn't be surprised however if Kan faction supporters actually go with Kaieda simply to avoid being in control of the party when it disintegrates next year.

Kan's choice of successor - Noda - is as bad a sellout to the finance ministry as Kan was. Already pledged to not restore manifesto promises, committed to raising sales tax in the middle of a looming economic depression, and recent caught suggesting that war criminal convictions were a travesty of justice, the worst thing he did was force Kan to retract comments about making Japan nuclear free - he is a staunch pro nuclear guy and Kan STILL blesses his candidacy.

I hope Maehara gets in - whoever wins, I suggest someone tell the band to move up to the top deck of the Titanic and to start playing some upbeat tunes to usher in the return of the LDP.

Peace

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well Maehara won't win, it's down to Noda and Kaieda.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

what kinda bs is this, this is like refugees making their way past immigration (without even providing any ID) then the person in charge claims they didn't know they weren't a citizen, how was he suppose to know if he was chinese or korean just by looking!!!!! how was it his fault OMG!!!. If its against the law, check it prior to accepting donation, if you accept it regardless then you broke the law.

Not to mention this guy was a CLOSE FRIEND OF HIS... was there no protocol set in place?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Patrick Smash

amerijap, Japanese law? Ishihara basically admitted he had taken 100 million yen of taxpayers' money and had given it to his kids, and there was no law doing anything about it.

You're off the track by mentioning 'taxpayers’ money.' It's about the law regulating fund contributions to politicians--not about fund misappropriation. But, hey, there's a point. History of bribe scandals proves that the Political Funds Control Law has too many loopholes, and no one in the Diet is willing to hammer out a strong resolution on it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites