The trial of Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa’s chief secretary began in Tokyo District Court on Dec. 18. The secretary is charged with violating the Political Funds Control Law by allegedly falsifying records related to the receipt of ¥35 million in political donations from Nishimatsu Construction Co.

The trial highlights an unusual situation for top leaders of the DPJ. In addition to the trial of Mr. Ozawa’s chief secretary, two former secretaries to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama were indicted without arrest last week, also in connection with falsifying records of political donations.

Mr. Ozawa’s secretary listed two political organizations, actually made up of Nishimatsu employees, as separate donors of the ¥35 million to Mr. Ozawa’s political funds management organization. The prosecution alleges that the secretary did this with the knowledge that the money came from Nishimatsu.

The prosecution also alleges that the secretary influenced the selection of construction companies as principal contractors in public works projects and even negotiated with Nishimatsu over the amount of donations to be made by the two Nishimatsu-linked political organizations.

The prosecution pointed out that since the secretary accepted the idea of Nishimatsu becoming the principal contractor for two public works projects in Iwate Prefecture, the donations should be regarded as a reward.

The defense counsel said there is no evidence that the secretary influenced the selection of companies for public works projects, adding that although he knew that the two political organizations were related to Nishimatsu, he did not know how the organizations raised money.

Mr. Ozawa repeated his contention that his secretary committed errors of procedure only, not of law. Irrespective of the outcome of the trial, Mr. Ozawa appears to bear the responsibility of fully explaining what happened, as the prosecution gave rather detailed accounts of the relationship between his secretary and various construction companies.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.