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Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010

LDP pressures Kan for Ozawa Diet testimony


Staff writer

Prime Minister Naoto Kan should make every effort to persuade Democratic Party of Japan bigwig Ichiro Ozawa, who is facing indictment over alleged political funding improprieties, to give sworn testimony before the Diet, Liberal Democratic Party leader Sadakazu Tanigaki said Wednesday.

Tanigaki also called for Public Prosecutor General Hiroshi Obayashi and Toru Suzuki, assistant public prosecutor at the Naha office, to appear as sworn witnesses over their role in the decision to release a Chinese fishing boat skipper last month.

Tanigaki noted the seriousness of the independent judicial panel's decision for the second time Monday to indict Ozawa. "There is an obligation to settle the matter in a manner convincing to the public," he said.

The Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution concluded Ozawa should be charged over alleged falsified financial reports of Rikuzankai, his fund management body.

Kan told a Lower House plenary session that the decision to summon sworn witnesses should be deliberated in the Diet.

Ozawa "has said he will offer an explanation. He should decide on his own how and where it should take place," Kan said.

Kan found fault with the notion of summoning the prosecutors over the release of the Chinese skipper, saying it would "negatively affect the independence of the prosecution."

Last month, the Naha prosecutor's office released the skipper, who had been detained following a collision with Japan Coast Guard vessels, after "careful consideration of future Japan-China relations and the repercussions for our nation and the people."

"The decision of the prosecution was appropriate," Kan said.

Kan said investigative authorities will reach an appropriate decision regarding whether to disclose video footage of the collision in the Diet. The government is reluctant to air the video, held by prosecutors as evidence, since it is likely to anger China.

Questioned by LDP lawmaker Tomomi Inada about granting foreign residents the right to vote in local elections, Kan responded that the parties should discuss the matter because it is highly contentious and involves security issues.

Inada said she opposed the move, claiming that granting foreigners suffrage is tantamount to surrendering national sovereignty.

Inada was also critical of allowing foreign residents to vote in the DPJ presidential election.



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