Prosecutors quit on Ozawa again

Kyodo News

Prosecutors said Friday they have decided for a second time not to indict Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa over his fund management body’s false reporting of political funds.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped the case against the ruling party kingpin, again citing lack of evidence, despite having been urged by an independent judicial panel to indict him.

An 11-member committee for the inquest of prosecution, which is attached to the Tokyo District Court, will look again into the prosecutors’ second nonindictment decision.

If at least eight panel members decide again in favor of indictment, a team of court-appointed lawyers acting as prosecutors will file criminal charges against Ozawa.

Ozawa, who turns 68 on Monday and is a 14-term member of the House of Representatives, is regarded as the most powerful figure in the governing party currently led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

In February, the prosecutors decided not to charge Ozawa, citing lack of evidence, after questioning him twice in January. They only imposed criminal charges against three of his former secretaries over the Rikuzankai funds management body’s false reporting of political funds.