Mon, Jan 25, 2010 - Page 4 News List

Japan opposition pursues DPJ scandal

AFP , TOKYO

Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa speaks at a party event in Hiroshima yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Japan’s main opposition party pledged yesterday to pursue a funding scandal involving political heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa, a day after he was questioned over a probe into the financial irregularities.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Ozawa, 67, the secretary-general of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), took millions of dollars in bribes from construction firms and invested the money in property.

They are also looking at alleged financial irregularities within his political funding group and have raided his offices and arrested three of his former or current aides.

After weeks of refusals, Ozawa on Saturday submitted to voluntary questioning by prosecutors at a Tokyo hotel but said he had nothing to hide.

“I have never received illegal money and I am sure neither have my office staffers,” he said in a statement released shortly after the questioning.

But Sadakazu Tanigaki, leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), told his annual party convention that encouraging Ozawa to battle the allegations was a mistake by Hatoyama.

“We will keep asking questions as to whether the leaders who run the government are qualified,” Tanigaki said, vowing to win July’s upper house elections.

Ozawa was credited with engineering the devastating poll defeat inflicted last summer on the LDP, which had ruled Japan with only one interruption for more than five decades.

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