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2010年4月29日 (木)

小沢氏起訴相当 「公判で真相」求めた審査会

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 29, 2010)
Panel wants truth about Ozawa uncovered
小沢氏起訴相当 「公判で真相」求めた審査会(4月28日付・読売社説)

An independent judicial panel of citizens threw down the gauntlet in challenging prosecutors who had decided not to indict Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa. We can only call this an exercise of the "good sense of citizens."

In a closely watched decision, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, which comprised 11 citizens, agreed that Ozawa merits indictment over his fund management body's alleged false reporting of political funds, a step beyond a decision that would merely deem nonindictment as inappropriate.

The panel's decision reflects a clear commonsense judgment that calls for the clarification of the facts and determining where the responsibility lies as long as there are suspicions concerning Ozawa's involvement.

As an initial step, prosecutors must reinvestigate the case thoroughly. If they decide not to indict Ozawa again, a judicial panel could decide for the second time that he merits indictment. Court-appointed lawyers could then indict him in place of prosecutors.

Attention is now focused on whether prosecutors will reverse course and indict Ozawa, taking into account the panel's decision.

"I'm surprised by the unexpected result. I believe the prosecutors will make an appropriate judgment in the end," Ozawa said in response to the panel's decision. He should fulfill his accountability by answering the questions the panel raised.


Key to decision

The key to the panel's decision was its interpretations of a statement by House of Representatives member Tomohiro Ishikawa, who was in charge of clerical work at Ozawa's fund management organization, Rikuzan-kai, and others involved. Ishikawa has been indicted on charges of violating the Political Funds Control Law.

Ishikawa told investigators of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office he had informed Ozawa of his plan not to list 400 million yen in the management organization's political funds report, and obtained Ozawa's approval. Rikuzan-kai used most of the money to purchase a plot of land in Tokyo.

However, Ozawa denied conspiring with Ishikawa, saying: "I don't know. I approved [the report], believing that the person in charge had recorded the facts."

The prosecutors eventually decided not to indict Ozawa, concluding that Ishikawa's statement lacked substance. However, the judicial panel disagreed, calling Ozawa's statement "unreasonable and unnatural" and "hard to believe," based on Ishikawa's statement and other evidence.

The panel even went on to say Ozawa had "persistently covered up" the fact that he had provided the 400 million yen so as "not to have the media kick up a fuss about it."

The panel, therefore, sought Ozawa's indictment from a different angle than the prosecutors, who put top priority on proving a suspect's guilt.


'Good sense' shown

The inquest panel's citizens' "good sense" was clearly shown in the following statement:

"Is it right not to question the responsibility of politicians whenever they insist they left the matter in question to their secretaries?
"As public distrust in politics and money is growing, the case cannot be ignored from the viewpoint of citizens."

We believe such views are shared by many people.

During the investigation of the Rikuzan-kai case, prosecutors were criticized for leaking information to the media.

Prosecutors must not be carried away by the feelings of citizens when conducting an investigation. But they should give explanations that satisfy the public.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 28, 2010)
(2010年4月28日01時19分  読売新聞)


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