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Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010

Opposition rides Ozawa, Hatoyama over scandals


Staff writer

The opposition camp took the podium Monday to grill Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama over the money scandals involving him and Democratic Party of Japan kingpin Ichiro Ozawa.

During Diet questioning following Hatoyama's policy speech Friday, Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki slammed what he described as Ozawa's "dictatorship" over the DPJ as well as his lack of accountability in his funds scandal.

"I have a fundamental question I'd like to ask the prime minister," Tanigaki said. "Are you this nation's true leader, representing the DPJ in both name and reality, or is it an Ozawa dictatorship?"

Tanigaki said the LDP will pursue the scandals by summoning the people involved to the Diet while pressing the administration to call a general election and to resign en masse.

Hatoyama responded that party posts were elected by democratic means and it would not be possible for Ozawa to control the party and the government.

"Now that we are the ruling party, it's only natural that internal party matters be handled by the secretary general — I'd like to exercise my leadership and responsibility as the head of the government," Hatoyama said.

"I believe what is most important is what we can do for the people, what policies we can present to them," he said.

Hatoyama said he intends to watch developments in the investigation into Ozawa in "a calm manner," and added he believes the process has so far been fair.

Taking his turn behind the podium, the LDP's Nobuteru Ishihara criticized Hatoyama for failing to touch on the Ozawa scandal in his policy speech.

"The public's (acceptance) cannot be gained by closing the lid on uncomfortable truths," Ishihara said, adding he also expects Hatoyama to be held accountable for his own scandal, which involved funds received from his mother.

According to a Mainichi Shimbun poll over the weekend, 76 percent of respondents said they believe Ozawa "should resign" over the money scandal, while 68 percent said they "did not believe" Hatoyama's claim that he was unaware of receiving more than ¥1.2 billion from his mother, the heiress to the Bridgestone tire empire.

Ozawa's fund management body allegedly failed to report ¥400 million in income and roughly ¥352 million in expenses in connection with the 2004 purchase of a plot of land in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. The case has lead to the arrests of three of Ozawa's current and former aides.



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