As this is being typed, the representatives of the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution are tacking up the indictment the committee has handed down against Ozawa Ichiro in the case involving misleading entries in the 2004 and 2005 reports of his fundraising group the Rikuzankai.
Here group dynamics, legal behavior and facts meet in conflict. Prosecutors have twice declined to indict Ozawa, certain that they could not make the direct connection between the entries in the books made by his subordinates and any direct order from Ozawa himself. Having once overruled the Prosecutors Office's judgment, the committee has decided to stick with its earlier request to indict, this even though the committee has new members without a personal stake in the original decision.
Has Ozawa's career in politics been fried on a fluke decision of a group of randomly picked citizens? For now, it seems that answer to that question is yes. He will certainly have to fade from the foreground as he prepares for his trial, at which he is almost certain to be found not guilty.
As for the DPJ, it will suffer minimal damage from this turn of events. The Cabinet is entirely free of Ozawa Group members and even the lesser political positions have only a sprinkling of his followers in them. Without their leader in full, unencumbered command, Ozawa's people are going to have to hew more steadily to the main party line of moderation and caution in matters political and fiscal.
Still, the stain of indictment will be fodder for those in the opposition who wish to avoid real issues and continue bashing the DPJ on "money and politics" issues. Look for grandstanding today, tomorrow and through the week on an issue where in any sane world, the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party should keep its mouth shut.
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