Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ozawa: "Home from the Hill"

The Ozawa's Nagatacho world of ideals, media trials, sulfurous news leaked out, and politic tricks.

A world built between fiction and reality because here too politics kill personal beliefs, ideals and desires confronted with the reality of the world. As in a remake of "Home from the Hill", political this one, the dreams and tremendous ambitions of this formidable Japanese politician are found parasitized by the ideals of the surrounding world. Now these dreams become justice matters, from which he cannot escape.

The Hatoyama government political heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa just re-denied to the Prosecutor the allegations that he received an illegal donation. A scandal that has rocked the Hatoyama centre-left government and the party he co-leads, the DPJ. A scandal whose sources and treacheries are everywhere the cameras want them to be.

Again Ozawa refuses to step down. Facing the press in a hotel in Tokyo last night, same hotel where the hearing were organized, here is what Ichiro Ozawa has to say:


"I want to fulfill my given duties, I have nothing to hide, so I told all the facts that I remember." He added that his former and present secretaries have not received any illicit money from Mizutani Construction Co. or from any other firms. Ozawa lashed out at media critics and reports of illegal donations branding those as "groundless."

My sources in Tokyo say that "the battle between the Public Prosecutors Office and the Shadow Shogun could continue until summer as the Office is loaded with lots of information and they could extend Ozawa's questioning for weeks." The re-assignment of the prosecutor would take until spring and the de facto new office would happen in summer current administrative re assignment for thousands of personnel. The Public Prosecutors Office had long been controlled by the LDP, now in the opposition.

Items watched by the Prosecutor office

Ozawa, the ruling DPJ’s secretary-general, faces allegations on how he obtained 400 million yen used to buy real estate and whether he was aware his campaign finance organization failed to report the transaction, according to the Yomiuri newspaper. Ozawa has repeatedly denied doing anything wrong, saying yesterday the funds were his own, and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has backed him up.

Ozawa also denied accepting compensation in cash for awarding a dam contract to Mizutani Construction Co. “I have not received any such improper payments from Mizutani Construction or any other company,” Ozawa said. “My former aides never accepted any improper payments either.” Former executives of Mizutani told prosecutors the firm gave 50 million yen ($550,000) in October 2004 to Tomohiro Ishikawa, when he was one of Ozawa’s private assistants, after winning a dam construction contract, the Yomiuri newspaper reported Jan. 15.

Scandal chronology as set by today's JT

January 1995 — Group called Rikuzankai becomes Ozawa's political fund management organization.

Oct. 29, 2004 — Rikuzankai buys land in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward.

Jan. 7, 2005 — Rikuzankai registers ownership of the land.

April 7, 2006 — Ozawa assumes DPJ presidency.

March 3, 2009 — Takanori Okubo, an incumbent state-paid secretary for Ozawa, is arrested on suspicion of falsely reporting illegal donations received by Rikuzankai from Nishimatsu Construction Co. Prosecutors raid Rikuzankai's office.

March 24 — Okubo is indicted over the case.

May 11 — Ozawa announces his resignation as DPJ leader.

Sept. 15 — Ozawa becomes DPJ secretary general under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Dec. 18 — Okubo pleads not guilty at the Tokyo District Court.

Dec. 27 — Tokyo prosecutors question Tomohiro Ishikawa, a DPJ lawmaker who was formerly Ozawa's privately hired secretary, on a voluntary basis.

Jan. 5, 2010 — Prosecutors question Okubo on a voluntary basis.

Jan. 12 — Ozawa denies any deliberate wrongdoing at a news conference.

Jan. 13 — Prosecutors question Ishikawa again, search Rikuzankai's office, Ishikawa's office inside a Diet facility and offices of major builder Kajima Corp.

Jan. 15 — Ishikawa and Mitsutomo Ikeda, who succeeded Ishikawa as secretary to Ozawa, are arrested on suspicion of violating the Political Funds Control Law.

Jan. 16 — Okubo is arrested on suspicion of violating the Political Funds Control Law. Ozawa says during a DPJ convention that he will fight prosecutors.

Jan. 19 — Prosecutors search offices of several midsize construction firms.

Jan. 23 — Prosecutors question Ozawa on a voluntary basis.

The comments LDP SPJ

"The long process of unraveling (the scandal) has begun," said Sadakazu Tanigaki, president of the Liberal Democratic Party, the largest opposition force. "This is an issue of trust between the people and politics," he said at a party meeting, reiterating calls for Ozawa to be summoned to a Diet meeting as a witness.

Consumer affairs minister Mizuho Fukushima, who heads the Social Democratic Party, a minor coalition partner of the DPJ, said the developments were "extremely regrettable" and called on Ozawa to explain the matter fully to the public. (with quotes by wire services, JT, reporter's notes)

And... the Okinawa political dilemma

All of this happening just before an important election in Okinawa on Sunday to pick the leader of the city of Nago. Election which may determine PM Yukio Hatoyama's decision on the future of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station in Ginowan, another city in the southernmost Japanese prefecture. The mayor election is being closely watched as Hatoyama said that he wants to see the result before deciding whether to relocate the Futemma facility, which currently sits in a residential area in Ginowan, to Nago, in line with a 2006 Japan-U.S. deal; or to transfer it outside the prefecture as he has advocated.

This is being a major cause of concerns between US Forces, the White House and the new Hatoyama administration and his party, the DPJ, co-led by influential Shadow Shogun Ichiro Ozawa, "Celui par qui le scandale arrive." **

** Translation into French from the American movie "Home from the Hill", the first novel by William Humphrey, published in 1958. It was made into a film in 1960 directed by Vincente Minnelli with Burt Lancaster as main actor.

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