DJP leader implicated in Nishimatsu investigation

By Chris Sleight05 March 2009

Tokyo prosecutors investigating alleged slush funds set up by contractor Nishimatsu say the money may have been used for illegal political donations. Under Japanese law, politicians are not allowed to receive corporate donations.

Illegal payments to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader, Ichiro Ozawa, are alleged to have been made by Nishimatsu. One of Mr Ozawa's assistants, Takanori Okubo, has been arrested as part of the investigation. He is alleged to have received JPY 21 million (US$ 212000) from the company.

Nishimatsu is thought to have set up dummy political organisations and used these to make annual donations totalling JPY 25 million (US$ 252000). The money is thought to have come from offshore slush funds. If the DPJ received money in the knowledge that it originated from Nishimatsu, but colluded in disguising its origin, this would constitute illegal false reporting.

Mr Ozawa has reacted angrily to the investigation's focus. While he does not deny receiving money, he says he was not aware it originated from Nishimatsu. He has also complained of being singled-out in the investigation, claiming the company made donations to numerous lawmakers in both Japanese political parties.

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