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Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011
Top DPJ body agrees to suspend Ozawa
The top decision-making body of the Democratic Party of Japan decided Tuesday to accept a proposal to suspend Ichiro Ozawa's membership in the party, a participant in the meeting said.
According to Hiroshi Kawauchi, a close Ozawa ally who opposed the decision, most of the members of the DPJ Standing Officers Council agreed to the proposal put forward by party Secretary General Katsuya Okada.
The council is now set to ask a DPJ political ethics committee to discuss the issue, which is likely to be followed by a formal decision by the top council to punish Ozawa as early as this week.
As long as his party membership is suspended, Ozawa will not be allowed to run in an election as a DPJ candidate or receive political donations through the party's chapter in Iwate Prefecture, which he heads.
The council's looming decision could drive a huge split in the DPJ between pro-Ozawa and anti-Ozawa camps at a time the party desperately needs all of its votes to pass key budget-related bills.
"It's very disappointing," Kawauchi told reporters after the meeting. "I wanted to give my opinion (about the decision), but the chairman cut me off, saying the meeting was over."
Ozawa has been indicted for misreporting the money used in a shady Tokyo land purchase. in his annual political funding reports.
Kenji Hirata, secretary general of the DPJ's caucus in the Upper House, criticized the decision.