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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 March 25 - 31  > Ozawa must disclose everything about donations he accepted from constructor
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2009 March 25 - 31 [POLITICS]

Ozawa must disclose everything about donations he accepted from constructor

March 25, 2009
Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa Ichiro’s state-funded secretary was indicted on charges of violating the Political Funds Control Law.

The Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office’s deputy public prosecutor stated: “We have concluded that a Dietmember’s political organization has kept secret from the public the fact of large amounts of money it accepted over many years from a particular construction firm.”

Although the prosecutors charged that he had violated the Political Funds Control Law, the indictment is about collusive ties between a politician and a construction firm, and Ozawa cannot evade his personal responsibility.

DPJ leadership defends Ozawa

At a news conference on the evening of March 24 following the indictment, Ozawa tried to downplay the indictment as a trivial technical matter by stating, “The issue involves technical errors in the financial report to the government. There is no criminal act like bribery involved.”

The DPJ leadership heard Ozawa explain his case and accepted his offer to continue to perform his duty as DPJ president. However, the DPJ has stated nothing about the allegations of accepting illegal donations.

Hatoyama Yukio, DPJ secretary general, defended Ozawa by stating, “It is nothing more than a ‘violation of adjective law’. We do not understand why the secretary was arrested when the matter could have been resolved by giving him an administrative order to correct the report?”

This comment typically lacks the notion that corporate donations hidden from the public are hindering “people-led politics,” the notion advocated by Ozawa, and that such donations distort politics toward serving the interests of financial and business circles.

At issue is not something that can be dismissed as a technical error.

Nishimatsu Construction Co. and politicians implicated in the illegal donations have reasons for wanting to hide their identities and the nature of the funneled money using political action groups that supposedly did not exist as conduits. To distort politics using the power of money undermines the core principles of parliamentary democracy, far from helping them to take root firmly as Ozawa claims.

The purpose of the Political Funds Control Law is to let the general public keep a constant watch on the flow of political funds by making it public in the first place. If a political funds report contains false statements, the entire system is at risk.

Hotta Tsutomu, a former public prosecutor of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors’ Office special investigation unit, said, “If they use roundabout routes and fictitious organizations to circumvent this law, which is a major tool for cleansing, the people cannot monitor the movement of political funds. Violating regulations is therefore most wicked” (Asahi Shimbun, March 23).

As the U.S. Time Magazine (Mar. 23) points out, it is well known that Ozawa’s mentors were Kakuei Tanaka and Shin Kanemaru, who lost their positions over allegations of graft, and that himself is also deeply implicated in corrupt money politics.

Ozawa’s explanation that he did not know who funded the enormous sum of political funds is totally unconvincing.

Ozawa should have known the mechanism very intimately, as he said on March 17, “In most cases, corporations are donors to political organizations.”

Ban corporate donations

The task now is to thoroughly investigate the case and to ban donations from corporations and organizations with a view to preventing any recurrence of such actions. Ozawa himself should clear, if he can, the suspicions cast on him. He should also disclose the fact that he was given “more donations than he should have legally been entitled to” (Mar. 4) for many years from corporations whose primary aim is to further profits.

DPJ officials have shown no self-cleansing efforts to investigate the allegations. They are just calling for party unity. The Liberal Democratic Party is also responsible, as similar suspicions of illegality are emerging in relation to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Nikai Toshihiro.
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