Lawmakers in the Democratic Party of Japan are coming out in support of DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa, who has said he will decide as early as Tuesday whether he will resign over a fundraising scandal.
Former DPJ policy chief Yukio Edano said Sunday that many of the party’s members have come to share the view that Ozawa does not need to step down unless the scope of the prosecutors’ investigation expands to the party president himself.
“Speaking about the atmosphere surrounding the whole party, there’s nothing that can overturn Ozawa’s decision if he makes clear he intends to remain in his post as long as the investigations do not expand,” Edano said on a TV Asahi talk show.
Ozawa is waiting for prosecutors to conclude whether to indict his secretary, Takanori Okubo, whose custody period expires Tuesday. Okubo was arrested March 3 on suspicion of taking illegal corporate donations from organizations linked to Nishimatsu Construction Co.
A senior DPJ lawmaker said that even if Okubo is indicted, Ozawa should continue as the party leader if the indictment relates only to a violation of the law regulating political donations and fundraising.
Okubo allegedly took illegal donations of ¥21 million from Nishimatsu from 2003 to 2006 and falsely reported them as donations from dummy entities. Corporate entities are not allowed to make campaign contributions to individual politicians.
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