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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

EDITORIAL

Citizens' view of Mr. Ozawa

Tokyo's No. 1 Inquest of Prosecution Committee, an independent judicial panel composed of 11 citizens, said in its decision dated July 8 that the prosecution's decision not to indict former Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa in connection with the alleged false reporting on political funds by his funds management body in 2007 is "unjust." Six or more members of the panel supported the decision.

This means that the prosecution will have to reopen the case. If the prosecution decides again not to indict Mr. Ozawa, the process will end. In view of the investigation so far, it is likely that the prosecution will not indict him. But the committee's decision shows citizens' sentiment that they cannot fully trust Mr. Ozawa due to the political funds problem revolving around ¥400 million he borrowed from a bank and lent to his fund management body in the fall of 2004 to buy land. He should seriously think how to regain people's trust.

His suspected involvement in the money and politics problem has been the Achilles' heel of Mr. Ozawa, who wielded power in the DPJ and influenced some important government decisions. The July 15 announcement of the panel's decision came as a blow not only to Mr. Ozawa but also to the DPJ.

On April 27, Tokyo's No. 5 Inquest of Prosecution Committee, another independent judiciary panel also composed of 11 citizens, challenged the nonindictment of Mr. Ozawa and unanimously decided that he "deserves indictment" over the alleged false reporting in 2004 and 2005 by his fund management body on the ¥400 million and the land purchase. In May, the prosecution decided again not to indict him.

The No. 5 panel's decision is legally stronger than the No. 1 panel's decision. If the panel decides again that Mr. Ozawa "deserves prosecution," he will be automatically indicted.

Mr. Ozawa's stance is that he has explained his position to the public through news conferences. The problem is citizens think he has not fully explained himself on the allegations. At the least, he should speak before the Lower House's Council on Political Ethics.



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