Monday, October 04, 2010

Ozawa Ichiro Indicted

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.


vpn said...

i just discovered your blog and really like it

John Mock said...

Unfortunately, this displays, yet again, the out-of-control judicial system where folks can be prosecuted without minimal evidence or, as in a recent case, with doctored evidence. This is clearly a weak point of Japanese society.

LB said...

@John - actually I think this is a very positive sign of how the judicial system can be made to work. Prosecutors will not press charges unless they are 99.9% sure they will get a conviction - they were not certain of that with Ozawa, so they didn't indict. Two independent groups of citizens have looked at the evidence and said "No, the prosecutors' office did not do their job, he should be indicted. Let the courts decide if he is guilty or not."

This is the exact opposite of the recent situation where a prosecutor doctored evidence - although it should be pointed out that the evidence that was doctored was not even used in court, precisely because it had been doctored. People are being arrested for tampering with evidence and covering that tampering up, not for actually using the evidence in court (they were, at least, not quite that stupid).

I was somewhat stunned to hear Takeda Keigo, the Newsweek Japan Editor, on TV this week saying "Well in Japan an indictment is usually seen as being the same as convicted, so we should leave the process up to the pros. The Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution was running wild I think." Huh? Leave it to the pros?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?