第1検察審議決 小沢氏不起訴にまた疑問符

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 17, 2010)
Prosecutors should keep Ozawa in sights
第1検察審議決 小沢氏不起訴にまた疑問符(7月16日付・読売社説)

A panel for the inquest of prosecution has again pointed out shortcomings in the investigations into former Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa over a scandal involving his political funds management organization. Prosecutors must take this situation gravely.

Public attention is focused on whether the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution will recommend for the second time that Ozawa should be indicted. The Tokyo No. 1 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution made a separate conclusion Thursday that it was "unjust" for prosecutors not to have indicted Ozawa over the funds body's alleged falsification of its 2007 political funds report.

Three of Ozawa's former secretaries, including House of Representatives member Tomohiro Ishikawa, have been indicted on suspicion of making false entries into political funds reports for 2004, 2005 and 2007 to hide a shady transfer of 400 million yen the funds management body, Rikuzan-kai, used for the purchase of a plot of land in Tokyo.


Waiting for 2nd conclusion

However, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office decided not to indict Ozawa due to lack of evidence. Because civilians dissatisfied with this decision filed for a review of the case, the No. 5 panel has been reexamining whether the prosecutors' decision was appropriate regarding the false entries for 2004 and 2005, while the No. 1 panel did likewise for the 2007 report.

The No. 5 committee in late April concluded Ozawa "merits indictment." This panel is now reviewing the case for the second time after the prosecutors office again said it would not indict Ozawa.
If the No. 5 panel again concludes Ozawa should be indicted, the ruling party bigwig will face mandatory indictment.

A DPJ presidential election is scheduled for September. As such, the timing of the No. 5 panel's second conclusion has become a focus of mounting concern, especially among politicians with a stake in the race and its outcome.

If prosecutors decide not to indict Ozawa after their investigation despite the No. 1 committee's "unjust" decision, there will be no second review of the case by the panel.

Nevertheless, the panel flatly stated that Ozawa's explanation to the prosecutors--that he left the entry of data into the reports entirely to his secretaries--was "unnatural" and demanded prosecutors conduct a more exhaustive investigation.

Regarding false entries in the political funds reports, the panel concluded that confessions by Ishikawa and another former secretary--they claim they told Ozawa they would not enter the 400 million yen transaction into the reports and received Ozawa's approval for the omission--are credible. The panel said they could not escape the belief that the prosecutors' questioning of Ozawa "did not go far enough."


Unusual demands

The panel also demanded the prosecutors ask Ozawa and the former secretaries to submit pocketbooks and notes in which they recorded their activities and check them against the facts. It is quite unusual for members of the panel, who are chosen from the public, to make such demands on investigation methods to prosecutors.

The panel has implicitly warned the prosecutors not to simply go through the motions by deciding the outcome before even starting their investigation. We urge the prosecutors to leave no stone unturned in their investigation.

Ozawa appeared emboldened by the prosecutors' decision not to indict him and has refused to give any explanation about the scandal at the Diet. The possibility that Ozawa might take the stand at the House of Representatives Deliberative Council on Political Ethics has been left up in the air.

The Tokyo No. 1 panel's conclusion was a resounding "no" to Ozawa's refusal to clear up this matter. We again urge Ozawa to fulfill his responsibility to clearly explain to the public his involvement--if any--in the alleged wrongdoing.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 16, 2010)
(2010年7月16日01時17分 読売新聞)

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