• Kyodo News


An independent judicial panel has launched its second review into whether a decision by prosecutors not to indict ruling party kingpin Ichiro Ozawa over false financial reporting by his political fund management body was appropriate, judicial sources said Tuesday.

The Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution is expected to reach a conclusion by the end of October, the sources said.

Ozawa will face mandatory indictment if the panel draws the same conclusion it did in April, that a conspiracy between Ozawa and three of his former aides was “strongly suspected” and that he therefore merited indictment.

If Ozawa is elected president of the Democratic Party of Japan on Sept. 14, he would be assured of becoming prime minister because the DPJ holds power in the Lower House.

Under the Constitution, a Cabinet member can’t be indicted without the consent of the sitting prime minister, but Ozawa has said he would agree to a trial under such circumstances.

Kingpin defiant

Ichiro Ozawa said Tuesday he has no plans to leave the Democratic Party of Japan even if he is indicted over his political funding scandal.

“I have done nothing wrong so I don’t see the need to leave the party or resign (as a Diet member),” Ozawa, who is challenging Prime Minister Naoto Kan for the ruling party’s presidency, said in a taped program for NTV.

Ozawa had previously only said he wouldn’t “evade” responsibility for the scandal should he be prosecuted.

“It was proven through the prosecutors’ investigation that I have not done anything wrong,” he said, referring to their earlier decision not to pursue criminal charges against him.

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