Japan opposition leader to resign over fund scandal

May 11th, 2009 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, May 11 (DPA) Japan’s opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa expressed his intention to resign to avoid any negative effects in the next general elections from a political fund scandal, local media reports said Monday.
The Democratic Party of Japan leader reportedly told party executives that he intended to step down as head of the nation’s major opposition party, after his secretary was arrested for allegedly receiving illegal donations from the Nishimatsu Construction Company.

Prior to the scandal, the 67-year-old veteran politician was considered a favourite to lead the party to victory in the next general elections, which must be held by autumn.

Ozawa led the party to a landslide victory in the House of Councillors election in July 2007 and secured the majority in Japan’s upper chamber.

He stayed on as the party president, accusing prosecutors of abusing state powers, amid mounting calls for his resignation in and outside the party after the fundraising scandal broke in March.

His secretary was indicted late March for receiving 35 million yen ($355,000) in donations from the scandal-tainted construction company in violation of the political funds control law.

As recent public polls showed an increasing demand for Ozawa’s resignation, he decided it was necessary to step aside to allow the party a clean slate for the lower house election later this year, news reports said.

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