Prosecutors to Ozawa: submit anew to grilling

Kyodo News

Prosecutors asked Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa to submit to questioning after an independent judicial panel decided last month that he merits indictment over his fund management body’s alleged false reporting of political funds in 2004 and 2005, sources said Wednesday.

The request is another blow to the DPJ-led government, as Ozawa is considered the party’s powerhouse.

Ozawa, meanwhile, is considering explaining the case at the Deliberative Council on Political Ethics at the House of Representatives amid continuing calls for him to do so from the opposition camp, senior DPJ officials said.

If Ozawa complies with the prosecutors’ request, it would be the third time he has been questioned on a voluntary basis over the suspected violation of the Political Funds Control Law, following earlier sessions on Jan. 23 and 31.

Ozawa came under renewed pressure after the panel, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, made the decision on April 27, opening the way for the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office to reinvestigate the case.

In February, the prosecutor’s office decided not to charge Ozawa, citing lack of evidence after questioning him on Jan. 23 and 31. The planned questioning will probably again be conducted on a voluntary basis, according to the sources.

The inquest panel will revisit the case, which involves the purchase of land in Tokyo, if the prosecutors again opt to not charge Ozawa or fail to come to a decision within three months. If the panel decides again in favor of indictment, a team of court-appointed lawyers will act as prosecutors and file criminal charges.