• Kyodo News


Lawmaker Tomohiro Ishikawa, one of three former secretaries accused of falsifying Ichiro Ozawa’s political funding reports, denied Thursday that he received slush funds from contractor Mizutani Construction Co.

Ishikawa, 37, then a member of the Democratic Party of Japan and now an independent member of the Lower House, made the denial during the third session of the trial for all three former Ozawa aides at the Tokyo District Court.

The other defendants are Takanori Okubo and Mitsutomo Ikeda.

They are accused of failing to list a ¥400 million loan from Ozawa in the 2004 funding report for Ozawa’s fund management body, Rikuzankai.

Ozawa, the 68-year-old former DPJ president and secretary general, was indicted late last month on similar charges by a court-appointed team of three lawyers. The DPJ decided Tuesday to suspend Ozawa’s party membership.

The three former secretaries pleaded not guilty when their trial started Feb. 7.

On the opening day, the prosecutors argued that the three defendants didn’t report the ¥400 million loan from Ozawa because the money was deemed unexplainable and could not be disclosed out of fear it would lead to the detection of illegal donations from Mizutani Construction, based in Kuwana, Mie Prefecture.

The prosecutors said Ishikawa and Okubo received ¥50 million each from Mizutani Construction after Okubo requested ¥100 million in return for accepting the firm as a subcontractor for a dam construction project in Ozawa’s home district of Iwate Prefecture.

Ishikawa, in response to questions by his counsel, said Thursday it was his understanding that Ozawa had inherited a large amount of assets, so he didn’t think it was odd his political boss would have the ¥400 million.

One of the main points in the trial is the credibility of Ishikawa’s depositions to investigators. During interrogation by prosecutors, Ishikawa reportedly acknowledged falsifying the Rikuzankai report.

Ishikawa told the court Thursday that during the interrogation, he developed an illusion that what the prosecutors were saying was true.

Another focal point is whether Ozawa received the slush funds from Mizutani Construction.

Ishikawa, a two-term Lower House member, left the ruling party following his arrest and indictment last year.

Ozawa wielded strong political clout in the designation of contractors in the Iwate region’s public works projects financed by local governments.

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