Ichiro Ozawa, former president of the Democratic Party of Japan has finally broken his silence over the recent guilty verdicts for three of his former aides, calling the decision 'unbelievable' in a democracy.
The Tokyo District Court on Sept 26 gave suspended sentences to Tomohiro Ishikawa, Takanori Okubo and Mitsutomo Ikeda for falsifying financial reports of Rikuzankai, Ozawa's political fund management organization.
Although mired in the controversy of financial irregularities for some weeks, sources close to Ozawa say he was expecting not-guilty verdicts and was shocked at the outcome.
Ozawa had declined to speak in public about the verdicts until he was interviewed online over the weekend. Ozawa strongly criticized the verdicts, saying, "It's unbelievable that this can happen in a democratic country, even though there was no evidence."
He went on to say, "I am being made a scapegoat in a political game." When asked if he had been asked to run for the leadership position he responded, "If I do run, I don't want to be the kind of leader that shirks his responsibilities and tries to cling on to power."
Ozawa is currently awaiting his own trial, which opens on Oct 6. He is accused of conspiring with the former aides.
Sources within the DPJ told the press that under Ozawa's strategy, the three former aides would have been found innocent, he himself would have been acquitted and he would have gone on to win the DPJ presidential election next summer.
"When the false charge is cleared, and if I have public expectations on my shoulders at the time, I will run for the DPJ presidential election," Ozawa was quoted as telling a lawmaker.© Japan Today