Prosecutors: Ozawa report was dodgy

Kyodo

Prosecution authorities were aware early last year that a prosecutor had compiled a false investigative report from depositions taken from an aide of ruling party kingpin Ichiro Ozawa, who is on trial for allegedly conspiring to file a false political funds report, sources said Friday.

Masahiro Tashiro, who was part of an elite investigative team at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office, worked on the investigative report after questioning the aide, Tomohiro Ishikawa, currently an independent lawmaker, in May 2010.

Ishikawa was tried separately over the falsified funds report and got a suspended sentence.

The investigative report provided one of the grounds for an independent judicial panel’s decision for the second time that Ozawa of the Democratic Party of Japan should be indicted.

The prosecution authorities were aware of the falsification in January 2011, nearly a year before Ozawa’s counsel pointed out the fault during a December session of his trial. Tashiro testified at the session and denied intentionally falsifying the investigative report, claiming he had compiled it based on his memory.

Senior prosecutors have began questioning Tashiro.

The investigative report compiled by Tashiro quoted Ishikawa, a Lower House lawmaker, as saying he had informed Ozawa of the false reporting of political funds and received his approval. Tashiro had allegedly told Ishikawa that lying would betray voters.

But the interrogation record secretly taken by Ishikawa during the questioning session did not include such verbal exchanges between him and Tashiro.

Prosecution authorities became aware of the lack of a record of the alleged verbal exchanges in early January 2011 during consultations among judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers prior to Ozawa’s trial.