The suspicion of a political fund scandal by Ichiro Ozawa, the secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), has increased. Tomohiro Ishikawa, a member of the House of Representatives, was arrested on January 15th for alleged violation of the Political Funds Control Law. As to be expected, his apprehension made the front page of every newspaper. For example, the Asahi Shimbun reported on it as follows:
“The investigative team from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrested Tomohiro Ishikawa (36), DPJ Lower House member, and Mitsutomo Ikeda (32), both are former administrative managers of ‘Rikuzan-kai,’ a fund management body of secretary general Ozawa, for alleged violation of the Political Funds Control Law (material misstatement) on the scandal failing to state resources (400 million yen) for the land Rikuzan-kai purchased in 2004 on income and expenditure reports of political funds.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors had already obtained an arrest warrant for Takanori Okubo (48), the chief public secretary of Ozawa and the accounting manager of Rikuzan-kai for the same suspicion and had planned to arrest him after January 16th. However, upon considering the possibility that Ishikawa might destroy evidence and commit suicide, they decided to apprehend him during the voluntary search.”
Sankei Shimbun reporting the stormy impact on the political world said, “One of the cabinet ministers was quite startled and said ‘Really!? Can they arrest a Lower House member just for failing to report (income and expenditure of political funds)?’ One of the DPJ leaders cast his eyes heavenward while saying, ‘This is a disaster.
The prosecutors have crossed the line.’” The Asahi Shimbun reported Nihon University Professor on Politics Tomoaki Iwai’s comments on the arrest. Professor Iwai said, “I believe that taking into custody an active Lower House member for alleged material misstatement violation of the Political Funds Control Law seems a little high-handed as an investigation method. Since Ozawa did not have any connection to Rikuzan-kai, he cannot be accused of acts of corruption. What is the investigative team’s goal? Do they intend to arrest him as a conspirator of the alleged violation to the law?
If this scandal is ‘Due to Ozawa’s declining a voluntary hearing on the matter, it makes matters look like a ‘children’s quarrel.’ Both Ozawa and the investigative team are responsible to explain more to the public, aren’t they?” I strongly doubt this professor’s logic.
Even though Professor Iwai insisted that taking someone into custody with such a relatively light crime seems “high-handed”, what the Political Funds Control Law imposes is for politicians to fulfill their responsibility to disclose truthful information to the public and the violation of this law is quite a serious crime as the law sets its maximum penalty for 5 years in prison. There is testimony that Mizutani Construction Co., Ltd., a subcontractor of the Kajima Corporation handed 50 million yen twice, 100 million yen in total, to Mr. Ozawa for the purchase orders they received when constructing the Isawa dam.
The money was handed to Ozawa “in thanks for ” the order the subcontractor Mizutani Construction Co. Ltd. had received from Kajima Corporation through successful acceptance of an order through bidding. It was to substantiate this financial transaction that the investigative team searched Kajima Corp. and Rikuzan-kai’s office on January 13th. Professor Iwai claimed that this cannot be an act of bribery because Ozawa did not have any authority or say in the matter.
It is obvious thinking of the money involved, that Ozawa’s office has gigantic power, the so-called “Word of God” on decisions of business in the Tohoku region, especially for large scale construction projects. Since Mizutani Construction paid the money based on the fear of losing work in the Tohoku area if they didn’t keep on Ozawa’s “good side”, the money involved may also be thought of as extortion (the penalty being imprisonment of up to 10 years) or forcible obstruction of business (up to 3 years). It seems the professor’s question, “What is the investigative teams goal?” misses the whole point.
Ozawa has another suspicion hanging over his head, namely that he moved the remaining political subsidies to his own political body when he dissolved the Liberal Party (LP) and Japan Renewal Party (JRP) which he was, respectively, the party leader and chairman.
The amount of money was 920 million yen when the JRP was dissolved including 500 million yen from legislation expenses provided from the country of Japan to political parties, and was 1,360 million yen in dissolving the LP including political subsidies ranging from 385 million to 560 million yen.
Former Treasury Minister Hirohisa Fujii, who resigned in January, was the secretary general of the LP and was allegedly involved in this cash flow. There is a rumor that he was questioned about the cash by prosecutors under the auspices of “hospitalization for tests”. I believe the true reason Fujii resigned was because he started to think Ozawa may be arrested sooner or later. In my opinion, Ozawa’s apprehension is unavoidable. Ozawa may possibly proactively resign his position to avoid being arrested and choose to become a behind-the-scenes fixer.
Ozawa has bought 12 real estate properties with a total cost of 1.06 billion yen. It is unprecedented that a politician would make a real estate investment using political donations. Since the prosecutors judge that the current regime can neither exercise the right of command nor accept a resolution of permission to arrest, they will probably request the Diet for permission to arrest him.
Media coverage against the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is indulgent. I can still sometimes see the opinion expressed that, “The apprehension of Lower House members solely for violating the Political Funds Control Law is high-handed.” However, if this was the Liberal Democratic Party, no one would write such sympathetic articles.
The treatment of the coverage of Prime Minister Hatoyama having received 1.26 billion yen from his mother as “child allowance” is also lenient. Although he received the money disguised as a political contribution under a fictitious name possibly to avoid inheritance tax, his answer to questions in the Diet about funding from his mother was, “As far as I know, I believe no such kind of money exists.” and then, he admitted his guilt and paid a gift tax for 575 million yen.
What about paying the accrued interest and levying a heavy penalty? If the funds were really used for political campaigning, they far surpass the limit of 1.5 million yen per year allowed on political donations. The previous crimes were “overlooked” through just paying the inheritance tax. This is also a violation of the Political Funds Control Law and is tax evasion.
If someone is caught on tax evasion and is allowed to pay just the outstanding tax without incurring any penalties or criminal charges just by insisting, “I didn’t know.”, even after the offense has been confirmed as tax evasion, then the concept of tax evasion cannot exist. If tax evasion does not exist, why on earth does the National Tax Administration Agency (NTA) exist? Especially if it can not execute its duties and perform an inspection in this situation! The media’s attitude towards this case seems to be dictating the NTA’s behavior, not the proper execution of the law!
Even though the young people work hard in the media and in the NTA, the upper ranks of the administration obstruct their work due to their fear of the crumbling and collapse of the DPJ. This is the same social mechanism that criticized the former Chief of Staff of the Air Self-Defense Force, General Tamogami about a year ago and tried to hide the truth.
5 months after the start of the Hatoyama regime, the serious fraying around the edges of that regime appears to be remarkable. The national budget is inflated due to their pork-barrel manifest, Hatoyama runs about in confusion and has to continuously be on guard towards Ozawa in the double structure between their party and the Cabinet. It is a miserable situation. There is a huge issue of diplomacy now, owing to the DPJ insisting that the refueling mission in the Indian Ocean by the Maritime Self-Defense Force be terminated at midnight on January 16th.
On the day of termination, there was an article on the political page of the Yomiuri Shimbun, “China is thinking about assuming the refueling mission.” The article states: “It was revealed on January 15th that the Chinese navy is considering taking over the refueling mission that the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force quit.
If this is realized, China will expand their influence on the important sea lanes that Japan uses to transport crude oil from the Middle East and may cause the Hatoyama regime to be criticized for the withdrawal. At the same time that China dispatched their fleet to Somali as a countermeasure of piracy, they aggressively committed their military might in the sea near the Middle East. By taking care of the refueling in the Indian Ocean, it seems they want to expand their sphere of influence even more. At the same time, they also intend to stabilize the channels to procure crude oil for their own energy security.
Although there was an opinion in the current government that we should not stop refueling since China will seek to take it over, the Hatoyama regime called a halt to the mission because the total amount of fuel provided was decreasing. Some were concerned about the situation and said, “This is tantamount to us handing our national interests over to China!” The refueling mission was a charitable international contribution and had low risk of bodily harm to the people involved and a relatively low cost for the goodwill it generated.
Abandoning and ceding the mission to China also conveys the acceptance of China as a member in the international community. In the end, putting the sea lane ? the tanker channel from the Middle East ? under China’s influence, will invoke a national security issue.
Furthermore, as an alternative contribution to refueling, Japan is being pushed for huge economic aid to Afghanistan. What on earth is the Hatoyama regime thinking about? Including the issue of Futenma, the whole diplomatic policy is gibberish and unthinking. The big earthquake which wreaked quite severe damage in Haiti, occurred on the morning of January 13th Japan time. Even though Haiti is located in Latin America, it has very strong diplomatic ties to Taiwan.
In response to the earthquake, China ? with uncustomary speed ? quickly dispatched fifty people as an international rescue team to Haiti, begging the question of an ulterior motive of intending to making Haiti, a pro-Taiwan country, sway under their control. What about earthquake prone Japan which has a well-experienced rescue team? We should have immediately announced “We have composed an international rescue team and will send them to Haiti with relief supplies.” Then, the evaluation of current Prime Minister Hatoyama’s regime would have been totally different.
But that course of action was not realized, as Prime Minister Hatoyama who weaseled his way out of the alleged violation of the Political Funds Control Law, does not seem to be able to muster such leadership. Finally, though the public expected much cleaner politics through the DPJ achieving a change of administration, why does it seem that the DPJ’s monetary impropriety is worse than the LDP?
If Ozawa is arrested, as I predict, what will happen to the DPJ? The current DPJ is an “election winning mutual aid group,” cobbled together to “win the election” without any consensus of their policies. As soon as Ozawa, the centripetal force of the party has gone, the DPJ many breakup and lead to a political realignment.
I cannot vote for any political party in the situation that the DPJ has created for itself, in addition to it becoming left-winged to the extent that they cannot insist on the true history of our country. They are trying not to have any conflict with China and Korea, and Hatoyama’s DPJ insists on an impracticable and ridiculous “regular triangle” diplomatic policy by bridging America and China through communication with the U.S., the alliance partner, and China, the autocratic communist state.
I hope to create a new genuine conservative party, have them come to power, and try to recover the economy with tax derivations (admitting accelerating amortization of assets, facilities, and funds for R&D including private homes). At the same time, we should aim to establish an independent country that is proud of our history and reconstruct Japan as a proud country.
Most politicians chose to become politicians and run for office in order to realize their own policies. But once they win the election, what takes precedence is not executing those policies but activities to win the next election. And little by little, they choose a party based on whether they think they can win the election, not on their philosophy nor policy. They start to think how much money they can gather to win the election. Ozawa can be regarded as a symbol of this and as one who tried to tactfully conceal it.
In the background of the grand coalition with the LDP in November of 2007, we cannot help thinking that there was an Ozawa fund seizing strategy for gaining benefits thrice from dissolving the Liberal Party and Japan Renewal Party. In this case, Ozawa gave up the grand coalition, he negotiated with Prime Minister Fukuda, objected within his party, and declared but soon withdrew his announcement to resign by being begged to stay.
Since he felt the risk of being questioned by prosecutors about a sequence of events surrounding the unclear cash flow such as the Nishimatsu Construction Co., Ltd. which came to light last year and the Izawa dam, the case currently being focused on, he put the coalition forward to gain a huge amount of funds from the DPJ by dissolving the party under the coalition with the LDP and sought to escape from the prosecutors by joining the government.
And as the public was growing weary of the strongly leftist leaning LDP and what they were doing, Ozawa was poised to be the biggest contributor for the birth of the DPJ’s administration.
As he had become the secretary general of the ruling party, he thought to himself, “Now the prosecutors cannot touch me!” and started to be eaten up with pride. Last year, when he visited China leading 640 people including 143 Diet members, he yelped with delight at having his picture taken with President Hu Jintao, and set an interview between Japan’s Emperor and the Vice President Xi Jinping after returning from China, in total disregard for a custom called “the one-month rule.”
In a press interview responding to the criticism that he uses the Emperor as a political tool, Ozawa condemned the Secretary of the Imperial Household Agency with the words, “You should speak after resigning your position!”. He also said, “Don’t you (the Secretary) know the Constitution?”, and he reviled by presuming about the emperor saying, “If asked, the emperor will do anything.” and “If the Emperor has a health issue, other events should be stopped.” Although no one pointed it out, treating Xu Jinping in this way can be problematic. In China, the former President Jiang Zemin still has a strong influence – as his picture in People’s Daily was treated on the same level as the current President.
As a candidate for president-elect, Jiang Zemin supports the Vice-President Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao recommends the Vice President Li Kequang. By letting Xi Jinping have a special interview sends the signal that Japan supports Jiang Zemin’s party.
However, Jiang Zemin is the person who has remained in power through using anti-Japanese sentiment such as building anti-Japanese museums throughout China and insisting on the nonexistent Nanjing Massacre. If Xi Jinping, his follower, becomes the President it is not good for Japan. Ozawa’s assistance to this is totally against our country’s interest.
The DPJ supporters have begun to lose their fervor of support due to Ozawa’s haughty attitude, both towards the Emperor and his thinking that the prosecutors cannot arrest him. The prosecutors cannot allow him to go free with this attitude, and started to question Lower House member Ishikawa, which led to the arrest of three former secretaries of Ozawa. Everything stems from Ozawa’s self-conceit.
In order to stop Ozawa from becoming a behind-the-scenes-fixer like Kakuei Tanaka was, the prosecutors have to expiate his guilt not only for the violation of the Political Funds Control Law but also for extortion and forcible obstruction of business. Afterwards, a political realignment should take place to create a genuinely conservative regime, which will then lead Japan to become the independent country that it must become. I am now strongly hoping for this.