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Saturday, March 28, 2009

DPJ ire over Ozawa slowly ebbs


Staff writer

Discontent toward Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa eased a bit in his own party Friday, although some openly questioned whether he should stay on amid the scandal embroiling his top aide over illicit funds from a contractor.

To mollify rank and file members upset with the way top DPJ executives decided to back him Tuesday, Ozawa attended separate meetings with DPJ members from the Diet's upper and lower chambers to explain the situation.

Ozawa apologized and claimed he has done nothing wrong, a statement he said was proved when prosecutors refused to indict top aide Takanori Okubo on more serious charges, including bid-rigging, besides violating the Political Funds Control Law.

"I have never met the president (of Nishimatsu Construction Co.) and other executive members," Ozawa said, adding it is impossible to check each and every donation himself.

Although some of the DPJ's Lower House members, including Yoko Komiyama and Yosuke Kondo, made demands, the whole atmosphere seemed supportive of Ozawa, and others gave him encouraging speeches.

Nobody in the Upper House questioned Ozawa.

Komiyama argued that Ozawa's legal battle and the DPJ's election strategy are different matters.

"Not just listening to the members around you, I would like you to listen to the people around the nation and make a judgment by yourself," she said.



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The Japan Times

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