Ozawa creates new party – Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People’s Lives Come First)

Former Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa launched his new party together with 48 followers Wednesday, vowing to fight DPJ Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s quest to raise the consumption tax and restart idled nuclear reactors nationwide.

Ozawa’s new party, Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (people’s lives come first), tentatively consists of 37 Lower House lawmakers and 12 Upper House lawmakers. The number is expected to be finalized next week after the DPJ finishes procedures to expel Gaku Kato, who later decided to bolt from the ruling party to join Ozawa’s group.

During the party’s kickoff meeting in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, Ozawa stressed he would concentrate on fiscal and administrative reforms before a tax hike.

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Ozawa Fails to Strike Critical Blow to Ruling Party – And is Now a Quitter

The chief rival to Japan’s prime minister tried his best to wreak havoc Monday by quitting the ruling party to protest a tax increase and encouraging other lawmakers to do the same.

But the defection of power broker Ichiro Ozawa and 49 of his loyalists failed to strike a critical blow to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, whose party emerged from this long-anticipated rebellion with its majority intact. Noda now commands a smaller party but also a more unified one, political experts here say, and no longer must he worry about placating the most vocal critic of his policies.

Ozawa, 70, is perhaps Japan’s most divisive politician, a master of Tokyo’s backroom deal-making, and he had hoped to spark a larger defection, which would have been more difficult for Noda to shrug off. Had 55 or more ruling-party members in the lower house handed in resignations, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) would have lost its majority and Noda would have been susceptible to a no-confidence vote that might have kicked him out of office.

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Ozawa – Japan’s Shadow Shogun Cleared of Fraud

JAPANESE political kingpin Ichiro Ozawa has been cleared of fundraising fraud charges.The 69-year-old veteran once dubbed the “shadow shogun” is now expected to step up his destabilisation campaign against current Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his allies.Mr Ozawa – a former leader of the Democratic Party of Japan – had been indicted for allegedly falsifying the accounts of his fundraising body to conceal its use as a slush fund for political donations.His aides had said the mistake was purely technical and their boss had not been aware of it.

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Ozawa’s aides convicted in scandal

A Japanese court has convicted three former aides to a ruling party powerbroker in a political funding scandal, dealing a blow to his status in the struggling partys public image.

Ichiro Ozawa engineered the Democratic Party of Japans historic rise to power in 2009 but was charged with political funding violations this year. He will face a separate trial beginning Oct. 6 over the case.

Ozawa’s party membership has been suspended over the scandal but he remains a hugely influential figure.

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Japan ruling party suspends Ozawa

A split in Japans centre-left ruling party deepened Tuesday as it suspended the membership of the premiers key rival, faction boss Ichiro Ozawa, who faces charges over a funding scandal.Prime Minister Naoto Kan — battling cabinet approval ratings below 20 percent and the threat of parliamentary gridlock — last week faced down a revolt by 16 Ozawa supporters who threatened not to vote with his government.Ozawa, a veteran backroom fixer sometimes dubbed the "Shadow Shogun", last year failed in a bid to topple Kan as head of the Democratic Party of Japan DPJ and prime minister but has remained a thorn in his side since then.A scandal over political funding irregularities has long hung over Ozawa and given ammunition to the conservative opposition, which has threatened to block key budget financing bills in the divided Diet legislature.Prosecutors in January indicted Ozawa, 68, over the affair. He and three former aides who also face trial deny any wrongdoing.Ozawa, in talks with the DPJs ethics panel, proclaimed his innocence and said there was "no rational reason" he should be suspended.Kans DPJ has repeatedly urged Ozawa to stand down, worried the scandal will taint the party with the whiff of Japans old-style money politics.

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Ozawa Scandal-hit and refuses to leave party

A split within Japans centre-left government deepened Thursday when veteran powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa rejected a demand by the prime minister to leave the party as he faces trial in a funding scandal.

Ozawa, dubbed the "Shadow Shogun" of Japanese politics, is the biggest faction boss in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan DPJ and narrowly failed in a bid last September to oust Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

He denies personal wrong-doing in the funding scandal, which has led authorities to raid his offices, indict three of his former aides and, forced by a citizens review panel, to indict Ozawa himself late last month.Kan — who is battling plunging opinion poll ratings and the threat of legislative gridlock in a split parliament — Thursday met 68-year-old Ozawa, who commands the loyalty of many first-time lawmakers he picked and coached.

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Ozawa in showdown with Kan

Ichiro Ozawa, one of the country’s most powerful lawmakers, rejected a request Friday to testify before a Diet ethics panel over his alleged role in falsifying a political funding report, setting up a possible showdown with Prime Minister Naoto Kan next week, ruling party lawmakers said.

Ozawa, a kingpin in the Democratic Party of Japan, told the party’s secretary general, Katsuya Okada, that he finds "no rational reason" to appear before the Lower House political ethics panel, considering that his case will be addressed in court.

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Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa in Hot Water

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said on Thursday he would keep Ichiro Ozawa on as the ruling party’s No.2, a day after prosecutors searched the office of Ozawa’s funding group over possible irregularities. Ozawa’s image had already been tarnished by the indictment of an aide for taking illegal corporate donations, prompting him to quit as party leader last May.

Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa vowed Saturday to fight on despite the new arrests of his key aides over a political funds scandal that could hurt voter support ahead of July’s Upper House election.

During the DPJ’s annual convention in Tokyo, Ozawa accused prosecutors of conducting an “unacceptable” investigation that has resulted in the arrests of three of his former aides for failing to declare in his political funds report ¥400 million that was used to buy a Tokyo land plot in 2004.

Prosecutors suspect that part of the money may have come from illegal donations from construction companies in return for favors in a dam construction project in Iwate Prefecture, Ozawa’s political base.

Ozawa, who had remained tight-lipped on the land deal, told the convention that he will fight and seek justice.

“There might have been miscalculations or errors on records, but typically such issues are let off after making revisions and corrections in most cases,” Ozawa said.

The DPJ kingpin explained that the ¥400 million purchase of the Tokyo plot was funded by his own hard-earned assets and not, as reported, by shady donations from construction companies.

“No one probably felt like they understood (Ozawa’s statements),” Kozo Watanabe, a 77-year-old Democratic lawmaker and a former party adviser, said on national broadcaster NHK.

“If Ozawa is innocent then I hope he will fulfill his responsibility to explain straightforwardly to the people.”

Analysts say support for the government and the party could fall if Ozawa, widely seen as the most influential figure in the Democratic Party, is forced to step down ahead of the election. But it remains to be seen how the investigation will play out.