Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Smooth (Alleged) Criminals

Yesterday, convicted felon Ishikawa Tomohiro, member of the House of Representatives for the Hokkaido-based New Great Land Party (Shinto Daichi - Link - J) tendered his resignation from the Diet. His explanation for why he had to give up his seat less than half-a-year after the December 2012 general election: the Tokyo High Court's having upheld in March his convictions on charges stemming from the filing false political fund records during his stint as personal political secretary to House of Representatives member and Life Party leader Ozawa Ichiro, who himself is no stranger to the justice system.

According to Ishikawa, he needs to quit politics temporarily in order to concentrate on the final, Supreme Court appeal of his conviction and by so doing avoid prison time (an impossible dream -- ask any lawyer).

To replace the scandal-tainted Ishikawa, New Great Land is elevating the #2 on the party proportional list for Hokkaido – a 27 year old (the minimum age is 25) woman, a former NHK director with a clean record.

All to the good, right?

Errr, not exactly.

The young woman in question in Suzuki Takako, eldest daughter of Great Land party leader Suzuki Muneo (Link – video J) – the Diet's former poster boy of corruption who himself has been twice convicted -- and held in a cell for a year and a half -- on corruption and embezzlement charges.

With all apologies to Ms. Suzuki, winning a seat in the House of Representatives through a private deal cut by two cons, with nepotism the big winner, does a great disservice to the image of Japan's democracy, such as it may be.

That Ishikawa's sentence was way too severe, and his arrest and conviction politically motivated, does not make the transaction any less dispiriting, unfortunately.

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