Prosecutor unlikely to face charge over false Ozawa report

Kyodo

Prosecutors are unlikely to indict a former colleague of theirs who compiled a false investigative report from depositions taken from one of the aides of Democratic Party of Japan power broker Ichiro Ozawa, who is on trial for conspiring to file a false political funding report, sources said Wednesday.

Prosecutors appear inclined to consider the case of Masahiro Tashiro, who was a member of the elite investigative team at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office, as negligence, the sources said.

Tashiro, 45, has denied deliberately falsifying the report, and his superiors at the time have not made any remarks that indicate he intentionally doctored the document, the sources said.

The prosecutors are expected to decide on Tashiro’s case after a ruling on Ozawa is handed down at the Tokyo District Court on April 26.

Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry is considering imposing some kind of punishment, such as a reprimand, on Tashiro and his superiors at the time, they said.

Tashiro worked on the investigative report after questioning the aide, lawmaker Tomohiro Ishikawa, 38, who was formerly a member of the DPJ, in May 2010.

The report, which said that Ishikawa admitted — after Tashiro told him that lying would lead to a betrayal of voters — that he informed Ozawa of the false reporting of political funds and received his approval, was one of the grounds for an independent judicial panel’s decision that Ozawa be indicted.

But an audio recording of the interrogation session secretly taken by Ishikawa did not include such a verbal exchange.

In January, a citizens’ group filed a complaint with the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office against Tashiro, currently at the ministry’s research institute, alleging that he compiled false official documents.

In mid-February, the Tokyo District Court decided not to adopt as evidence most of the depositions taken by prosecutors from Ishikawa.