Former Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa told the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday that there was nothing unusual about his keeping 400 million yen in his home instead of a bank. Ozawa was testifying for the second straight day on his involvement in a political funding scandal.
The 69-year-old politician is accused of conspiring with three former aides in not reporting 400 million yen of his own money that he loaned to his funding body in 2004 to facilitate a land deal, in contravention of Japan’s political funding laws. His three aides were convicted of the charges but have subsequently appealed.
In his testimony Wednesday, Ozawa again denied any involvement in false reporting of political funds. He said he had entrusted his aides with all administrative work and had never seen the funds reports, according to Fuji TV.
He said the 400 million yen at question in the deal had come from "various" sources, including property and money inherited from his parents, book royalties, and his salary as a lawmaker. But he refuted allegations of having received illegal donations from construction companies. When asked if he thought it unusual to keep that much money to hand, and not in a bank, he replied, "In some ways it's safer when you have it to hand. I don't think it's unusual," Fuji TV reported.
At the opening hearing of his trial in early October, Ozawa lambasted the prosecutors' investigations as a "clear abuse of state power."
Ozawa's explanation on the source of the 400 million yen he lent to Rikuzankai for the land purchase has drawn suspicion, as he has flip-flopped over the years. He said in February 2007 that it was "donations from supporters," but in October 2009, said the money was a loan from financial institutions.
In January 2010, Ozawa claimed the sum represented personal assets including money left from selling his home.
On the land acquisition for housing for his secretaries, Ozawa said he acknowledged the purchase and lent the 400 million yen he had in cash, Fuji reported.
But he said his involvement was "completed at that stage" and that he did not know of the other administrative and clerical procedures as he had entrusted them to his secretaries. When asked what kind of conversations they had when he lent the money, Ozawa said, "I do not remember at all."
Ozawa also claimed to have made an inquiry at his bank, but was allegedly told that the banks had no record of old transactions, Fuji reported.
When asked by a lawyer why his story had changed so many times, he replied, "I didn't change my story, I just didn't remember where it came from."
He also denied accusations by prosecutors that he had received illegal donations from construction companies as absurd, claiming he and his aides had never received any illegal donations from Mizutani Construction Co and others in the construction industry.© Japan Today