• Compiled From Kyodo, Staff Report


Ichiro Ozawa’s lawyer indicated Thursday he may file a lawsuit against a recent decision by an independent judicial panel that the Democratic Party of Japan heavyweight should be indicted over alleged falsified financial reports.

The lawyer said the decision by the panel of ordinary citizens doesn’t correspond with what Ozawa was originally accused of doing and is thus invalid.

“The content of the decision is different from what was accused as the crime,’ the attorney said. “This is illegal.”

He said legal action in some form will be taken against the panel’s decision, indicating the possibility of a lawsuit, but he hasn’t decided exactly what the action will be.

In explaining the alleged “criminal facts” involving Ozawa, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution claimed a ¥400 million loan by Ozawa to Rikuzankai, his political fund management body, was used to purchase land in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.

But in the first committee decision in April, the panel only pointed out the body’s failure to record the land purchase and the money spent for it in the 2004 and 2005 official funding reports. Where the money came from was not an issue at that time, some experts pointed out.

Ozawa meanwhile faced reporters for the first time since the panel’s latest decision. He likewise questioned the validity of the decision.

“There was a part added in the decision about my failure to report the loan I made to my political fund management organization,” Ozawa told a swarm of reporters. “During the questioning by prosecutors, I was hardly asked about this.”

The influential lawmaker, who just last month unsuccessfully challenged Prime Minister Naoto Kan in the DPJ’s presidential race, said he won’t leave the party or resign his Lower House seat.

“I have no intention to do so,” he said. “I will continue my political activities as long as I am considered necessary.”

Asked what he would do if the DPJ issues a recommendation for him to leave the party, Ozawa refused to comment, saying he believes party members will take into consideration the decision by prosecutors not to indict him.

Ozawa said that while he intends to appear before the Diet to give sworn testimony if summoned, he will make his primary argument in court.

He repeatedly referred to prosecutors as the “official investigative authority” in an apparent effort to downplay the decision by the inquest committee.

“The prosecution, the official investigative authority, deemed there was no wrongdoing. That led to their decision not to indict,” Ozawa said. “It is regrettable that the content of the investigation failed to gain sufficient understanding from the committee.”

He pointed out that the decision was reached by 11 committee members whose average age was about 30, and that their discussions were not public.

“I’m just stating the facts,” he said of the committee. “I want the court to prove my innocence.”

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