• Kyodo News


Ichiro Ozawa refused Tuesday to submit to questioning over his alleged accounting irregularities, his lawyers said, raising the likelihood that the former head of the Democratic Party of Japan will face mandatory indictment possibly as soon as this week.

Ozawa’s defense team conveyed his refusal to the court-appointed lawyers acting as prosecutors in the case.

Because the written notice didn’t give a reason for the refusal, the acting prosecutors concluded there is no room left for negotiations, sources said.

Ozawa, a longtime political power broker, could be indicted as soon as this week if the acting prosecutors determine that it isn’t necessary to make any more requests for questioning.

He is facing indictment because a judicial panel of citizens determined twice that he must be charged for his alleged involvement in the misreporting of his political funds, following decisions by prosecutors not to do so due to a lack of evidence.

The court-appointed lawyers assuming the role of prosecutors will file the criminal charges against him.

Ozawa, who has denied any wrongdoing, will be charged with violating the Political Funds Control Law for alleged false reporting by his political funding management body, called Rikuzankai, in 2004 and 2005, of some ¥340 million it spent to purchase land in Tokyo.

It also allegedly failed to book ¥400 million it received in loans from Ozawa.

Ozawa’s defense team rejected the court-appointed lawyers’ request for voluntary questioning, determining their client is not obliged to do so as he is in almost the same position as a criminal defendant.

Earlier this year, the acting prosecutors asked Ozawa’s lawyers for an opportunity to question him. His defense team then asked in writing to clarify the questions and the method of questioning in advance, the sources said.

Dissatisfied with the acting prosecutors’ reply received Monday, the defense team decided to reject the request for voluntary questioning.

The acting prosecutors initially planned to decide whether to question Ozawa after hearing his testimony before a Diet ethics panel, but they asked him to submit to questioning because it remains unclear when he will testify in the Diet.

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