Japan opposition leader’s secretary arrested

March 3rd, 2009 - 6:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, March 3 (DPA) Japanese police Tuesday arrested a secretary of Ichiro Ozawa, president of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), on suspicion of having received illegal donations from a construction company, media reports said.
Takanori Okubo, also chief accountant of a group that manages political funds for Ozawa, denied charges that the group received corporate donations from a former official of Nishimatsu Construction Co.

Prosecutors, however, said that Okubo knew that donations were made by the company, Japanese NHK television said.

The group, Rikuzankai, allegedly received a total of 14 million yen ($143,000) from two groups headed by a former Nishimatsu official, while a DPJ local branch received 10 million yen.

Corporate donations are prohibited under Japanese law.

The prosecutors also ordered the arrest of a former Nishimatsu president, Mikio Kunisawa, 70, and Akifumi Okazaki, 67, a former senior employee of Nishimatsu, over the allegation.

A former president of Nishimatsu was indicted last month on suspicion of violating the foreign exchange and foreign trade law.

He allegedly ordered his subordinates to bring in the money from overseas without officially reporting it to the authorities.

The company has also been accused of bribing Thai government officials earlier this year in return for favourable treatment when a tunnel project designed to ease flooding in Bangkok was to be awarded.

Analysts have said that Ozawa and his party had a chance to prevail in an upcoming general election slated for autumn since support for Prime Minister Taro Aso has hit rock bottom.

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