The e-mail that raised a ruckus in the Diet when the Democratic Party of Japan alleged it proved shady financial links between Livedoor founder Takafumi Horie and a top ruling party figure was in fact the work of a freelance journalist, DPJ sources have admitted.

The sender and recipient of the e-mail were one and the same, a DPJ probe concluded. The journalist passed the e-mail, which allegedly was an order from Horie to subordinates to transfer 30 million yen to a son of Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe, on to DPJ lawmaker Hisayasu Nagata, who brought it up in the Diet on Feb. 16, only to subsequently fail to authenticate it and instead offer to resign.

Nagata is set to apologize at a news conference Tuesday for tying up Diet business with the allegations.

DPJ chief Seiji Maehara and DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama will hold a separate news conference later Tuesday to offer their own apologies and to explain their positions on the allegations, DPJ lawmakers said.

But Maehara and Hatoyama are expected to stress that the party will continue its investigation into the relationship between Livedoor and LDP politicians.

Hatoyama, meanwhile, agreed with Ichiro Ozawa, a former DPJ vice president, to back Maehara as the party chief until September, when the party’s next presidential election is to be held.

While the DPJ appears to be hoping that offering the apologies will help settle the issue of the e-mail’s authenticity without Nagata having to resign, Nagata himself told Hatoyama by phone he would leave it up to the secretary general whether he should give up his Diet seat, party sources said.

Nagata has come under strong criticism from the LDP and has been admitted to a hospital for exhaustion.

On Monday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said in a meeting with other LDP executives he “would need to be hospitalized every day” if he was stressed out under such circumstances.

Takebe said it is important to see whether Nagata and the DPJ will express clear apologies at Tuesday’s news conference.

Nagata in the Feb. 16 House of Representatives session read out the e-mail, which he claimed showed Horie, who was earlier arrested and indicted for alleged accounting fraud, instructed the 30 million yen transfer to Takebe’s son — a transfer that also was not substantiated.

The DPJ unveiled a copy of the e-mail the following day, but its sender and recipient were blacked out. That person has yet to be identified.

The e-mail print out showed it was sent at 3:21 p.m. Aug. 26, 2005, and said, “Please urgently remit 30 million yen by the morning of Aug. 29.”

The DPJ claimed the e-mail’s sender and recipient were already blacked out when Nagata obtained it.

After the party failed to present clear evidence to authenticate the e-mail, a DPJ team began an investigation.

The party sources said the investigative team found the freelance journalist’s e-mail address written in both the sender and recipient parts of the header. However, the sources said there is still a possibility the e-mail was written based on actual e-mail information at Livedoor.

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