Japan politics: Yuko Obuchi’s payoff scandal and data mining strategy

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Japanese politics and money

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Context:

The scandal is about legally/ ethically wrong spending of her political fund management organizations.

Her offices had bought almost unexplainable goods in huge amount such as fares of buss, green onion, potatoes, baby goods, clothes from her sister’s related store.
What’s more, the most questionable records are gapped income and expenditure of a watching play event and watching baseball events for her supporters.

It means that she could give illegal payoff to her supporters in indirect ways. The suspected spending for play events can be traced back to at least 2007.

 

Amazing fact is that no one hadn’t pointed out such data to the public for more than 6 years until shukan-shincho revealed it very soon after Obuchi was designated to the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
The timing is apparently on the purpose to maximize political impact. That was the fight of pro versus pro.

The spending report of political fund data have been online and anyone can see them.
If any citizen had mined and publish the data,   it would have been a trophy for open data and citizen journalism. Of course, I could also have done it and I missed it, because I tried to digitalize other set of data, companies’ political donation to the Liberal Democratic Party.

The fund spending sheets are published as image file. And no one seems to digitalize them.
I guess there will be gold or blood in them. And still there’s plenty of room at the bottom.

Data Mining strategy:

However, I was able to learn a few things from the news coverages about how to conduct data-mining for the spending of political funds.

  • Do cross validation between fund data in government and local, because the political fund management organizations scatter across local and government web sites.
  • Check and build corresponding income and expenditure, and see whether there is a gap of money between them. If expenditure surpasses the income, the transaction can be tagged as a suspicious spending for payoff to supporters.
  • If she or he bought food or cloth, check the amount of money and check store’s name. The store could be her or his relative’s one.

 

It seems easy. The images below are actual data.

obuchi_func_expenditure1

obuchi_fund_income1

 

The data sources of keiko Obuchi’s political fund management organizations:

Mirai-sangyo-kenkyu-kai(未来産業研究会):

Furusato-sinko-kai(ふるさと振興会):

Obuchi-keiko-koen-kai(小渕恵子後援会):

Reference:

ネギ、ベビー用品は「贈答品」 小渕氏、辞任会見で  :日本経済新聞
小渕氏、疑惑の収支報告 観劇会巡り差額5330万円:朝日新聞デジタル

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