Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa has agreed to comply with a request from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad to be questioned voluntarily about dubious points surrounding a 2004 Tokyo land deal. The questioning of Mr. Ozawa, a powerful DPJ leader, will have negative repercussions for the Hatoyama administration. The timing is bad as the regular Diet session starts Jan. 18.

The prosecution, meanwhile, has already questioned Mr. Tomohiro Ishikawa, a DPJ Lower House member and a former secretary of Mr. Ozawa, on a voluntary basis.

Separately, Mr. Takanori Okubo, another former secretary of Mr. Ozawa, has been indicted on allegations of reporting that Mr. Ozawa’s fund management organization, Rikuzankai, received ¥35 million in donations from two political organizations when the money actually came from Nishimatsu Construction Co.

As for the land deal, Rikuzankai bought a 476-sq.-meter plot in Setagaya Ward on Oct. 29, 2004, for ¥340 million. Mr. Ozawa’s side has said that, to buy the land, Mr. Ozawa borrowed ¥400 million from a bank by putting up a time deposit as security. But it has been reported that even before Mr. Ozawa took out the loan, Mr. Ishikawa purchased the land with ¥400 million in cash that he received from Mr. Ozawa. The ¥400 million was listed on a 2005 Rikuzankai report — not on a 2004 report as required by the Political Funds Control Law.

Rikuzankai is believed to have returned the ¥400 million to Mr. Ozawa in 2007, but this transaction is not recorded in the organization’s report for that year, either. (When Mr. Okubo was arrested in March 2009, Mr. Ozawa had boasted that all his political funds were recorded in Rikuzankai’s reports.)

Mr. Ishikawa told the prosecution that he made “simple mistakes” concerning the money used for the land purchase. The circumstances of the land purchase give rise to the suspicion that Rikuzankai tried to hide the origin of the ¥400 million. Mr. Ozawa’s side, at the very least, must explain how this money was raised.

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