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Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011

Ozawa hospitalized with stones in ureter

Staff writer

Democratic Party of Japan kingpin Ichiro Ozawa was hospitalized Thursday night just hours after the end of his first trial session in connection with a political funds scandal.

Doctors at Nippon Medical School Hospital in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, where the 69-year-old lawmaker was admitted, confirmed in a Friday news conference that Ozawa has been diagnosed with ureteral stones.

DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi told reporters Friday that Ozawa had telephoned him in the morning and informed him that "ureteral stones were found (during) an examination."

The former DPJ president is still expected to attend his next court appearance, which is slated for next Friday, but if his condition fails to improve it is possible the schedule could be pushed back.

"Ozawa will have to remain in the hospital for about a week, but the duration of his stay depends on his condition," said Hiroshi Honma, a doctor at the hospital, adding physicians are administering drugs through a drip and will closely monitor Ozawa's condition.

A ureter is a duct that carries urine from a kidney to the bladder. Ureteral stones are common among middle-aged and elderly men and can cause pain, bleeding and obstruct the flow of urine.

On Thursday, Ozawa complained about pain in his left side and general fatigue during a dinner with lawmakers at a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo's Akasaka district.

The DPJ don had earlier that day attended the first session of his Tokyo District Court trial, at which he pleaded not guilty to breaking the Political Funds Control Law, and held a news conference soon after the court adjourned for the day.

During the nationally televised news conference he reacted angrily when a reporter asked him if he was willing to give sworn testimony in the Diet, as demanded by opposition parties.

Ozawa fiercely rebuked the reporter for asking questions that he dismissed as irrelevant. "Study up some more (about the separation of the three branches of power) before asking me such questions," he flashed, suggesting it is the judicial system's role to handle trials and not the legislature's.

He also brushed off questions about whether he is considering resigning as a Diet lawmaker.

Ozawa returned to his home in Setagaya Ward at around 9 p.m., and called for an ambulance around 11 p.m. When it arrived, he was alert and boarded the vehicle unassisted.

The "shadow shogun" has a long history of poor health. In 1991, he was hospitalized for more than a month because of heart problems, and in September 2006 he went to a hospital for a checkup after feeling ill shortly after his re-election as DPJ president.

Two years later, he was hospitalized for a week because of a sore throat.

The Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, the largest opposition parties, have repeatedly called on Ozawa to give sworn testimony in the Diet.

But Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Thursday he expects Ozawa to "fulfill his responsibility to provide an explanation during the trial."

Information from Kyodo added

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