• Kyodo News


Prosecutors have apparently decided not to question Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa on a voluntary basis in connection with alleged illegal donations from Nishimatsu Construction Co., investigative sources said Friday.

The prosecutors, at least for now, have judged it difficult to accuse Ozawa of failing to properly supervise his top secretary, Takanori Okubo, 47, who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of taking illegal corporate donations from organizations linked to Nishimatsu, the sources said.

Other media reports also indicated that prosecutors have found no evidence to prove Ozawa played a role in the illicit donations.

Okubo was arrested on suspicion of accepting ¥21 million in illegal donations from the general contractor from 2003 to 2006, and falsely reporting them as donations from dummy entities in violation of the Political Funds Control Law.

The law stipulates a fine of up to ¥500,000 to a representative of a political organization for failure to properly choose or supervise a person in charge of accounting affairs.

The prosecutors have already questioned DPJ Lower House member Tomohiro Ishikawa, 35, on a voluntary basis over the donations.

Ishikawa, a former secretary to Ozawa who was once in charge of donation-related paperwork for Rikuzankai, the DPJ chief’s fund management body, has denied being involved in any illegal donations from Nishimatsu.

Although the prosecutors appear to have no plan at present to press Ozawa, more details of his fundraising scheme have been revealed.

Sources said one of Ozawa’s political organizations gained ¥1.72 billion through fundraising parties in the 13 years through 2007, partly by allocating party tickets to general contractors.

The Ozawa-linked organization arranged for the party tickets to be purchased by general contractors, but their subcontractors and group firms often ended up buying the tickets in reality, the sources said.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office is looking into the situation as the fresh allegation sheds light on a fundraising scheme that may have involved not only large contractors like Nishimatsu, but other major and midsize construction firms as well.

Under the political funds law, a political group is required to disclose the names of party-ticket purchasers in its political fund reports submitted to authorities if the buyer purchased more than ¥200,000 worth.

Many general contractors, however, circumvented direct purchases by having their subcontractors buy the tickets.

According to the sources, however, the party tickets were numbered serially, making it easy to track down the contractor they were allotted to.

The names of major general contractors, including Kajima Corp., Taisei Corp., and midsize contractor Nishimatsu, were not listed on the organization’s political funds reports.

According to the reports, the political organization was led by Okubo in the two years through 2007. In the 13-year period from 1995 to 2007, the body held 51 fundraising parties, raising more than ¥100 million each year, except in 2006 and 2007. In 2000, the group booked a record of about ¥166 million.

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