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2009年3月10日 (火)

西松違法献金 厳しさ増す小沢氏の責任問題

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 10, 2009)

Pressure on Ozawa builds over donations

西松違法献金 厳しさ増す小沢氏の責任問題(310日付・読売社説)

Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa is facing an increasingly tough situation over his responsibility in an alleged Political Funds Control Law violation involving his state-funded secretary.


A recent Yomiuri Shimbun opinion poll found that 81 percent of respondents said they were not satisfied with Ozawa's explanation of the matter. More than 50 percent believed that he should step down as party leader. These figures should be of great concern to Ozawa.


Explaining about how donations from two political associations related to Nishimatsu Construction Co. were provided, Ozawa repeatedly said he had left the matter to his secretary and that he did not know anything about specifics. As for where the money for the donations in question came from, he only said that there was no way for him to know about it and that he would never inquire into it.


According to sources, however, his arrested secretary held direct negotiations with a former Nishimatsu executive to decide the size of donations the firm would make as well as how much each of the three Ozawa-related political organizations would get from the two dummy political associations.



Mistake or malfeasance?

This indicates that Ozawa's secretary was actively involved in disguising the donations from Nishimatsu as those from the political associations. If this is true, such an excuse--that the alleged misconduct is merely an unintentional minor technical violation of the law--will no longer hold water.


Ozawa has so far given no explanation about the nitty-gritty of the scandal. It is therefore quite natural that the public are not satisfied with what he said. Ozawa is responsible for investigating the matter himself and clarifying the truth.


The atmosphere within the DPJ has apparently changed. Initially, most party members appeared to have faith in Ozawa, but criticism of the leader and questions over his responsibility are spreading.


How will the DPJ handle this problem? The party's ability to manage a crisis will be tested ahead of the next House of Representatives election. Although the main opposition party saw a relatively minor fall in its support rate in the latest Yomiuri poll, the DPJ is expected to suffer more serious damage if it continues to deal with the matter in a way that deviates from common sense.



Bad news for both parties

On the other hand, the government and Liberal Democratic Party also need to take the results of the Yomiuri poll seriously.


The support rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso and for the LDP dropped again from the previous poll last month. Asked which is more suitable for the position of prime minister, more people still favored Ozawa over Aso, although the difference between the preferences narrowed from the previous poll.


This implies that the government and LDP are under heavy public scrutiny.


The prosecutors' probe into donations by Nishimatsu likely will widen to reach political organizations tied to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai. However, Nikai has said only that donations were properly reported based on the Political Funds Control Law. Nikai's way of dealing with the matter is just about the same as Ozawa's.


The Yomiuri poll also found that about 43 percent of the respondents, up about seven percentage points from the previous poll, said they did not support any party. Public distrust in politics will only grow if the LDP and DPJ fail to take action to purify themselves over politics and money.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 10, 2009)

20093100152  読売新聞)


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