「西松献金」公判 小沢氏は「天の声」を説明せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 20, 2009)
Ozawa should explain 'voice from heaven'
「西松献金」公判 小沢氏は「天の声」を説明せよ(6月20日付・読売社説)

It is Ichiro Ozawa's responsibility as a politician to explain the situation after prosecutors claimed at a court hearing--a very public occasion--that the office of the former Democratic Party of Japan president issued "voices from heaven" intended to sway decisions over which firms would win public works project orders.

The first hearing of the trial of a former president of Nishimatsu Construction Co. and another person, who have been indicted on a charge of violating the Political Funds Control Law and another charge was held at the Tokyo District Court on Friday.

In their opening statement, the prosecutors said Ozawa's office issued "voices from heaven" that instructed which construction company should get orders for public works projects in Iwate Prefecture--Ozawa's home turf--and others in neighboring Akita Prefecture. The prosecutors named five such projects in which Nishimatsu was involved.

Of them, four were won by consortiums that included Nishimatsu. The bidding prices for them exceeded 12.2 billion yen. The prosecutors also identified a case in which Ozawa's state-funded first secretary, who has been indicted in connection with the political donation scandal, allegedly issued a "voice from heaven."

If political donations from the Nishimatsu side to the Ozawa side were made with the intention of getting the "voice from heaven" to speak, as the prosecutors argued, the donations would be tantamount to bribes. Some argue that parties involved in the scandal therefore sought to hide the donations.


Case appears watertight

The Political Funds Control Law bans corporate donations to lawmakers' political fund management organizations. Nishimatsu evaded this regulation by making donations to the Ozawa side through two dummy political organizations led by former Nishimatsu officials.

The former Nishimatsu president confirmed the claims in the indictment and said, "I shouldn't have acted in a way that broke the law."

In addition to the arguments advanced during Friday's hearing, Ozawa's secretary, who will be tried at a separate trial, has been charged with falsely booking donations worth 35 million yen in political fund reports filed by Ozawa's political fund management organization and two local DPJ chapters.

According to a record of the questioning of the secretary read by prosecutors, the secretary "was aware the donations in question were from the Nishimatsu side." This statement could indicate the secretary knew the donations were illegal.


Many questions to answer

Ozawa has said,"It's impolite to ask a donor political organization how it raised political funds, and I won't stick my nose into such business."

But Ozawa is not only being asked whether his secretary violated the Political Funds Control Law.

During Friday's first hearing, prosecutors pointed out an apparent link between political donations to Ozawa's side and public works orders. Why did he receive a large amount of political donations from one specific general contractor? How did he spend the money? Ozawa should provide detailed answers to such questions.

Almost three months have passed since Ozawa's secretary was indicted. Has Ozawa made efforts to uncover the facts of the scandal during this period? This is not a matter that can be settled with his resignation from the top post of the main opposition party.

The party itself should not imagine it can draw a line under the scandal with a report issued by a third-party committee it set up. The DPJ also should provide accounts that satisfy the public.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 20, 2009)
(2009年6月20日01時26分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-06-20 07:19 | 英字新聞

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