• Kyodo News


Nishimatsu Construction Co. has provided opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa’s office with about ¥25 million in donations a year since around 1995 for a total of about ¥300 million over more than 10 years, sources said Thursday.

Two ex-Nishimatsu officials arrested Tuesday together with Ozawa’s top aide, Takanori Okubo, have told investigators the contractor made the donations to Ozawa’s office in an attempt to win contracts for public works projects in the Tohoku region, Ozawa’s political base, the sources said.

Investigators at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office have continued questioning Okubo, 47, former Nishimatsu President Mikio Kunisawa, 70, and former senior Nishimatsu official Akifumi Okazaki, 67, to examine the donations in detail.

The Political Funds Control Law bans corporations from donating to political bodies.

Prosecutors are also considering questioning Ozawa, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, in connection with Okubo’s arrest for allegedly violating the political funds law, sources said.

The prosecutor’s office has apparently judged it necessary to confirm whether Ozawa was aware the donations were illegal, the sources said.

Meanwhile, investigative sources said a Liberal Democratic Party political fund management body listed in its political funding report the address of Nishimatsu Construction as the address of a group that allegedly acted as a front organization in connection with the alleged illicit donations involving the contractor.

According to the report filed by the LDP body, called the People’s Political Association, it received ¥5 million in December 2003 from the group that allegedly acted as a dummy in the Nishimatsu scandal.

The funding report lists the location of Nishimatsu’s head office in Minato Ward, Tokyo, as the donor’s address, even though it is in Chiyoda Ward. The LDP body corrected the mistake in July 2007 after being informed of it by a third party.

The alleged front group, headed by a former Nishimatsu official, must have mistakenly conveyed the address of the contractor’s head office to the People’s Political Association as its own address after donating money to the LDP body, the sources said.

Prosecutors investigating the shady donations suspect the mistake indicates the group’s perception that it was effectively run by Nishimatsu.

The prosecutors believe the group affiliated with Nishimatsu is one of two that served as fronts for corporate donations so Nishimatsu could donate money to Ozawa’s fund management body, Rikuzankai.

Prosecutors also said that a Nishimatsu branch in Iwate Prefecture asked subcontractors to support Ozawa by donating money or joining his support group, and records indicate his aide may have known the donations were illegal.

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