DPJ-appointed panel analyzes scandal woes

by Kazuaki Nagata

At the request of the Democratic Party of Japan, four professors met Saturday to discuss DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa’s handling of an unusually timed donations scandal that has embroiled his chief secretary and dimmed the opposition’s prospects for taking power next election.

With media polls showing public dissatisfaction with Ozawa’s explanation of the affair, the DPJ decided to take the unusual step of asking four outside experts to form a panel and analyze Ozawa’s response.

The four are Jun Iio, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies who is chairing the panel, Keiko Sakurai, a professor of administrative law at Gakushuin University, Takaaki Hattori, a professor of media law at Rikkyo University, and Nobuo Gohara, a former public prosecutor who is now a professor at Meijo University.

DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama said the panel will be basically independent of the DPJ to maintain objectivity.

Gohara said one of the main problems for Ozawa is the unusual complexity of the case, which involves a rare government attack on fully documented funds.

If it had simply been bribery or some other crime, it would have been straightforward and easier to understand, Gohara said.

“We need to look at the whole framework of this incident, otherwise, it is uncertain what kind of explanation Ozawa needs to provide,” he said, adding that the DPJ probably didn’t have a clue about what to do.

“When it comes to this kind of issue, I think it is hard for the public to be fully convinced, but I think Ozawa should provide an explanation in a different way,” said Iio.

Other than Ozawa, the committee will also discuss the roles that are being played by the public prosecutors and the media.