• Kyodo News


The Liberal Democratic Party was gearing up Tuesday to pressure Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government over the imminent indictment of ruling party heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa for alleged involvement in falsified political funding reports.

With ministers in the Democratic Party of Japan-led government growing increasingly concerned about the effect of Ozawa’s indictment on forthcoming Diet deliberations, the LDP, the largest opposition force, also seeks to summon Ozawa and the DPJ’s Yukio Hatoyama, who stepped down as prime minister in June also in part due to a money scandal.

“Prime Minister Kan is pretending not to know about the issue. We will call on Mr. Ozawa and Mr. Hatoyama to testify (at the Diet),” Nobuteru Ishihara, LDP secretary general, said at a news conference.

An independent judicial panel said Monday that Ozawa should be indicted over the false reporting scandal involving his fund management body, Rikuzankai, making him the first politician to be indicted under the review system.

The LDP also agreed with its former ruling bloc ally, New Komeito, to urge Ozawa and Hatoyama explain before the Diet about their separate money scandals. The two parties are expected to discuss the submission of a resolution calling on Ozawa to resign from the Diet, according to lawmakers.

The DPJ-led government has remained largely tight-lipped about how to deal with Ozawa, the party kingpin who played a key role in the DPJ’s big win in last year’s general election that ended the LDP’s long rule.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku refrained from making any comment about the political fate of Ozawa, a former DPJ secretary general who ran last month against Kan in the party’s presidential election.

“If I say something from my capacity, I may negatively affect the management of the Diet and our party,” Sengoku said.

While Koichiro Genba, DPJ policy chief and state minister for national policy, left it up to Ozawa to decide his own political course, he also indicated the need for the party to make a decision.

“I believe the party with Secretary General Katsuya Okada at the center will mull what kind of response is appropriate,” Genba said in a news conference, calling on the opposition camp to separate discussions about political matters from government-related issues that directly affect the public.

Many ministers voiced concern about the coming Diet proceedings, with Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda saying, “There’s little doubt that (the Ozawa indictment decision) will have an impact on government administration and management of Diet affairs.”

Renho, state minister for administrative reform, told a separate news conference, “The impact (on Diet proceedings) will not be small, especially since this is an issue of politics and money.”

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akihiro Ohata said he will “look calmly at developments” in the wake of the inquest panel’s decision, while Banri Kaieda, economic and fiscal policy minister who is close to Ozawa, defended the former DPJ No. 2, expressing hope that he will be exonerated in court.

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