Rents paid to Ozawa’s fund body scrutinized

Kyodo News

Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa’s fund management body earned ¥9.8 million in rent on two Tokyo apartments through last year in possible violation of the Political Funds Control Law, according to the group’s funding reports.

By law, political funds and assets can only be turned into bank savings or used to purchase government bonds. Receiving rent generally constitutes a violation of the law if it is for investment purposes, said an Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry official.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said during a news conference Tuesday that Ozawa should provide a full accounting of the matter.

An official of the fund management body said the group confirmed with the ministry that receiving the rent posed no problem and that the aim of renting the properties was not for investment.

According to its political funding reports submitted to authorities, the group bought a 79-sq.-meter apartment in Chiyoda Ward in November 1994 and a 17-sq.-meter unit in Minato Ward the following month.

Because political fund management bodies are not allowed by law to register ownership of real estate, the assets are under Ozawa’s name.

The group initially used the Chiyoda Ward apartment as an office but rented it out in September 2004 for ¥200,000 a month to an organization working to promote Japan-U.S. private-sector exchanges.

The Minato Ward apartment initially accommodated a secretary. It was rented out in December 2001 to a consulting firm for ¥70,000 a month.

The funding reports state that the group had received a combined ¥9.8 million from the two apartments through the end of 2006.