Japanese minister to resign over secret loan - World - News - The Independent

Japanese minister to resign over secret loan

RICHARD LLOYD PARRY

Tokyo

A bitter political dispute about the legal status of Japanese religious groups will claim a high-powered victim today when the Justice Minister, Tomoharu Tazawa, resigns after allegations concerning a secret loan from a powerful Buddhist organisation.

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported on Friday that Mr Tazawa, a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) member of the upper house of the Japanese Diet, had done a back-room deal with political opponents to avoid being questioned about the 200,000 yen (pounds 1,250) loan from Rissho Koseikai, a lay organisation which has links with the LDP. In return for dropping their questions, the Justice Minister allegedly promised members of Reform of Heisei, an upper house grouping which includes members of the opposition Shinshinto (New Frontier Party), that he would resist government proposals to revise the Religious Corporation Law, which is being debated in the lower house of the Diet.

Mr Tazawa denied the charges on Friday, as an investigation was launched on the orders of the Prime Minister, Tomiichi Murayama. Over the weekend, however, it became clear that he could not survive. He will be replaced by Hiroshi Miyazawa, another LDP member of the upper house, and the brother of the former Prime Minister, Kiichi Miyazawa.

More than 180,000 religious groups are registered under the Religious Corporation Law, which grants them lucrative exemptions from income and property tax. The coalition government, in which Mr Tazawa's LDP is the leading partner, has been considering its revision for six months, since the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway, universally attributed to the apocalyptic Aum Shinri Kyo cult, which became rich through property deals and donations.

But the proposed legislation has provoked strong opposition from Buddhist and Christian organisations, and has become the focus of a party political row.

The wealth and grass-roots influence acquired by Japan's religious groups also allow them to wield considerable power among voters. Shinshinto, which stands a good chance of defeating the LDP in the next general election, derives huge electoral benefits from its association with Soka Gakkai, a lay Buddhist organisation supported by 8 million families nationwide.

Many Shinshinto politicians view the proposed revisions to the law as an attack on their core supporters - hence their eagerness to enlist the sympathies of Mr Tazawa.

Despite denying allegations of a secret deal, Mr Tazawa admits the loan, which he has repaid in full. However, he broke Cabinet regulations which require ministers to disclose assets and loans.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

KS1 Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Corporate Communications Manager - London - up to £80,000

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week