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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 January 19 - 25  > Why can’t they summon Ozawa for testimony?
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2011 January 19 - 25 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Why can’t they summon Ozawa for testimony?

January 19, 2011
Prime Minister Kan Naoto and the Democratic Party of Japan leadership still cling to a hearing in the Lower House Deliberative Council on Political Ethics over DPJ Ozawa Ichiro’s alleged corruption. The ex-DPJ head will reportedly be indicted for violating the Political Funds Control Law sometime soon. However, the council has no legal binding power to have Ozawa appear and cannot even accuse him of making false statements even if he does. Will the DPJ be able to bring him to account for his money-for-policies scandals?

PM Kan on January 4 expressed his commitment to settling the issue this year and demanded that Ozawa explain his own position at the council hearing before the ordinary Diet session starts. DPJ Secretary General Okada Katsuya on January 17 stated, “I hope that Mr. Ozawa will explain his side of the story” in regard to the alleged fabrication of political donations before the ordinary Diet session is convened. If he refuses, the Lower House council will decide on whether to summon him as a witness sometime this week, Okada said.

However, on a TV show aired on the previous day, Ozawa was refusing to respond to DPJ executives’ requests, saying, “Why on earth should I even go to the ethics council?”

The Japanese Communist Party and other opposition parties are calling for his sworn testimony before the Diet as an enforceable organ to accuse him of perjury if he commits perjury under sworn testimony but the DPJ is refusing to allow this.

Both the prime minister and the DPJ leadership are only allowing a hearing with Ozawa at the legally nonbinding council. They are, in effect, siding with Ozawa who refuses to give sworn testimony in the Diet.

Ozawa keeps saying, “I haven’t done anything wrong,” based on the fact that the case was previously dropped by the judicial authority. The Public Prosecutors Office had decided to not indict Ozawa because of insufficient evidence. However, this does not mean a verification of his innocence. In fact, the following questions remain unanswered: the dubious money flow from a construction company; unknown sources of 400 million yen to purchase land; and discrepancies of more than 2.1 billion yen made by his political fund-managing organization in political funds reports.

The general public is still casting a suspicious eye on Ozawa and the DPJ. According to recent opinion polls, 81% of respondents think that Ozawa “should explain himself in the Diet” (Yomiuri Shimbun). Also, 62% think that PM Kan is “not appropriately dealing” with the Ozawa scandals while 27% think he “is” (Asahi Shimbun).

Even among DPJ Dietmembers, voices have been heard demanding Ozawa’s departure from the party or his resignation from the Diet. Either of these actions, however, cannot reveal the veracity of allegations against Ozawa. The DPJ should be held responsible for bringing its former leader to the Diet to give testimony as a sworn witness.

Ozawa on the aforementioned TV show was shouting, “I must change the old-style politics centering on the Liberal Democratic Party!” If that is the case, why not show up at the Diet as a sworn witness? It will be a great chance for him to put an end to the old LDP politics as it traditionally acted as a defender of money-tainted politicians.

* * *

The DPJ on January 19 gave up a decision to be made by the Lower House Deliberative Council on Political Ethics to summon Ozawa as a witness.
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