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Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011

Ex-aide at Ozawa trial: ¥400 million properly noted


Staff writer

An ex-aide of Democratic Party of Japan kingpin Ichiro Ozawa testified Friday before the Tokyo District Court that he did not make any false entries in Ozawa's 2004 political funds report.

Tomohiro Ishikawa, 38, now an independent Lower House lawmaker who quit the DPJ after he was arrested, testified in the third trial session of Ozawa, an ex-party president charged with conspiring with Ishikawa and two other former secretaries to falsify reports by his political fund management organization, Rikuzankai. Ozawa has denied committing any wrongdoing.

Without making eye contact with his former boss, Ishikawa said he appropriately entered into Rikuzankai's 2004 funds report that it received ¥400 million from Ozawa to buy land in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward to build a dormitory for his secretaries.

"I followed all of the necessary procedures based on the ¥400 million from Mr. Ozawa," Ishikawa said. "I meant to make an accurate entry."

Court-appointed lawyers serving as prosecutors spent the day grilling Ishikawa but only got vague answers. They pointed out that he told professional prosecutors during an interrogation that he thought Ozawa's ¥400 million was "shady money that could not be made public."

But Ishikawa, who was convicted by the district court last month, handed a suspended sentence and is currently appealing, argued that the prosecutors forced him to make that claim.

The Diet member from Hokkaido also allegedly left out the ¥350 million that was actually used to buy the land in 2004 and instead entered it in Rikuzankai's 2005 political funds report. He explained that the money was paid in October 2004 but the official ownership registration was in January 2005, and therefore, the report was correct.

He claimed the idea came from DPJ lawmaker Takeshi Hidaka, one of Ozawa's closest allies and another former aide who has not been subject to trial, explaining that he purposely pushed back the registration so it would be recorded in the 2005 report due to the "changing political situation," but he did not elaborate.

Ishikawa, however, firmly denied telling Ozawa about the delay in the registration, even though he had previously told investigators that he reported it to the DPJ don.

"That was the statement they made me write," Ishikawa said as he blasted police and prosecutors.



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