Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa decided to remain in his post after his chief secretary was indicted Tuesday on a charge of violating the Political Funds Control Law. The party endorsed his decision.
Mr. Ozawa said the content of the indictment proved that he himself was not involved in bribery or other crimes. He also said he will do his best to have parliamentary democracy take root in Japan by wresting power from the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito in the coming Lower House election.
The decision by Mr. Ozawa and the DPJ shows they expect little damage to the DPJ, as they’re counting on people to understand Mr. Ozawa’s explanation. But there is no guarantee that people will. Unless Mr. Ozawa and the DPJ clearly detail their interpretation of the requirements under the Political Funds Control Law, it will be difficult to regain people’s full trust.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office indicted Mr. Ozawa’s chief secretary, who serves as the accountant of Mr. Ozawa’s political funds management organization, on a charge of falsely reporting that it and a DPJ branch received ¥35 million in political donations from two political organizations linked to Nishimatsu Construction Co. from 2003 to 2006 — while it actually received the money from Nishimatsu itself. The indictment has created the suspicion that the DPJ top leader has a special relationship with the general contractor. The DPJ needs to squarely deal with the problem of donations and politicians.
On the other hand, the arrest and indictment have given rise to suspicion that public prosecutors targeted the opposition leader ahead of a national election. Mr. Ozawa said public prosecutors in the past did not seek arrests or indictments in cases similar to his secretary’s. The big question is how prosecutors will handle other politicians in a situation similar to Mr. Ozawa’s regarding their relations with Nishimatsu.
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