Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa said Friday he is willing to be questioned by prosecutors over a political funds scandal that led to his chief aide’s arrest.
“I will meet with anyone and give explanations if there is such a request,” Ozawa told reporters, referring to media reports that the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office is considering questioning him over donations from groups linked to Nishimatsu Construction Co.
Ozawa reiterated that he has no intention of resigning as DPJ leader, but hinted at the possibility of reconsidering the matter depending on how investigations proceed.
“My understanding of the political funds reports is different from that (of Tokyo prosecutors) but I have not committed any crime, and at this point I am not considering stepping down,” Ozawa told reporters at the party’s head office.
“It’s a decision to make after the results (of the probe) come out,” he said.
On the specifics over the donations, however, Ozawa said, “I don’t know about each cash flow because I trust my secretary and leave these matters” in his hands.
Earlier this week, Ozawa’s secretary, Takanori Okubo, 47, was arrested on suspicion of taking illegal corporate donations from two political organizations related to Nishimatsu Construction.
The scandal broke at a time of mounting speculation that Ozawa could lead the DPJ to victory in the next general election and become the next prime minister.
DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama said in a news conference that his party believes in Ozawa, while criticizing a senior government official’s comment Thursday that the incident would not spill over to lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
“The government official made a slip of the tongue,” Hatoyama said. “How can this official make such a confident comment on the course of the prosecutors’ investigation? It’s very strange, and I can’t help being skeptical.
“I can’t help thinking that there has been some kind of conversation between the Cabinet and the prosecutors and that the prosecutors were sending some kind of message to the Cabinet,” he said.
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