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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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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