Kyodo NewsEx-lawmaker Suzuki jailed for 2 years, fined Y11 mil
Friday, November 5, 2004 at 10:41 JST
TOKYO — The Tokyo District Court on Friday sentenced former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Muneo Suzuki to two years in prison and fined him 11 million yen for taking bribes, not reporting political donations, and perjury.
Suzuki, 56, had pleaded not guilty to all the charges in the trial that began in November 2002. Suzuki was a member of the House of Representatives belonging to the LDP but left the governing party in March 2002 before his arrest in June that year.
We might not have a general election in Japan for up to another three years or so, but at least we're throwing some of the rotten ones in jail. One of the big challenges for the general elections in Japan will be whether we can get election reform back on track. Other than the fact that the ruling party has been in power almost non-stop for 50 years, we have some serious problems with our election system. The Prime Minister is not directly elected. This is similar to the UK where your parliamentarians select the Prime Minister, but in Japan, they don't have to tell you who they would vote for. The Prime Minister is chosen by the elders of the ruling party behind closed doors. There was a movement to reform this, but because of Prime Minister Koizumi's enormous popularity when he was selected, the people THOUGHT they had voted him in. Not true. The elders had just decided to select him to appease the people and possibly derail this election reform.
Another huge problem in Japan is the disparity of voting weights. They are very old and some rural areas have 5 times the voting power of people living in Tokyo. The Supreme Court of Japan has come close to calling this unconstitutional (because it is) and have asked the Diet to reallocate "or else"... but there is never "or else"... This supports the pork barrel politics of rural politicians subsidizing public works and skimming, which Suzuki was famous for.
The problem with Japan is that our democracy and our election process is so broken, it's not just a matter of getting people to vote and it's not even a matter of choosing the better of two evils. The ruling party wins and they choose the Prime Minister. You don't have much of a choice and without a massive, almost revolutionary uprising, reform is probably not possible. (sigh)
On the bright side, the prefectural Governors are elected more or less directly and are often very representative of the people. We should dissolve the central government and split Japan up into at least three nation-states. IMHO.