A Verdict of Guilty on Ozawa?
Mr. Ichiro Ozawa was first elected as Japanese lawmaker in 1969 when he was 27 years old.
Since then, without interruption, he has been a member of the Lower House of the Diet, the Japanese parliament. He played some decisive role in politics in early 1990s when he was a member of the pro-American conservative party LDP and later when he became the de-facto leader of ruling parties that were united to establish a new anti-LDP regime.
(The capitalistic LDP has been in power since 1950's till the drastic regime change in the summer of 2009 or except the era of PM Mr. Hosokawa and his successor of PM Mr. Hata in early 1990s and the present era after the general election held at the end of August 2009.)
After the collapse of the anti-LDP regime led by prime minister Mr. Hosokawa and Mr. Hata, Mr. Ozawa survived difficult situations by building new parties and then disbanding them for years till he joined the pro-Chinese socialistic DPJ in 2003. Mr. Ozawa became the top of the DPJ in 2006. As Mr. Ozawa had big money, he could always lead and control scores of politicians. They made a strong faction within the DPJ.
(The liberal DPJ was founded mainly by lawmaker Mr. Hatoyama and Mr. Kan as a rival against the LDP around 2000.)
But in May 2009 Mr. Ozawa stepped down from the party head due to a suspicion about illegal handling of political money. Actually his secretary was arrested. So, lawmaker Mr. Hatoyama succeeded Mr. Ozawa as the head of the DPJ. Then the DPJ won a general election at the end of August in 2009, defeating the LDP. Pro-Korean Mr. Hatoyama, a Mr. Ozawa's ally, became prime minister of Japan; Pro-Chinese Mr. Ozawa was appointed by new PM Mr. Hatoyama to the Secretary-General of the ruling party DPJ to support the Hatoyama Cabinet consisting of relatively younger politicians. However, when PM Mr. Hatoyama was forced to resign because of his poor handling of the US Marine base in Futenma, Okinawa, and a political-fund scandal, Mr. Ozawa also stepped down from the leadership of the party as public prosecutors were still in pursuit of Mr. Ozawa's case on suspicious political funds.
It was Mr. Kan who succeeded Mr. Hatoyama as the party head of the DPJ and prime minister of Japan. PM Mr. Kan took a tough stance against Mr. Ozawa who came to be officially investigated on an illegal political fund reporting. Though public prosecutors did not bring charges on Mr. Ozawa eventually, the Tokyo Committees for the Inquest of Prosecution voted to take Mr. Ozawa to the law. Mr. Ozawa was finally put under indictment. And its verdict is scheduled tomorrow.
Meanwhile PM Mr. Kan was forced to resign in late August of 2011 for his failure in handling the 3/11 Disaster recovery work and the Fuushima Daiichi accident, though he was promoting increase in a consumption tax rate and the TPP trade treaty with the US and etc.
But if 40-year-long veteran lawmaker Mr. Ozawa should be found not guilty concerning the Political Funds Control Law, he would more strongly grip lawmakers of the DPJ to be elected as the head of the DPJ and thus he could become prime minister of Japan or might have one of his followers elected as prime minister.
So, it is considered that PM Mr. Noda wants the court to rule Mr. Ozawa guilty. Then Mr. Noda can be re-elected this September when his party plans to have a convention to elect its new head.
Another factor is the LDP, the largest opposition party. Though Mr. Ozawa had once belonged to the LDP and become one of influential politicians of the LDP 20 years ago, today most of LDP lawmakers regard Mr. Ozawa as one of their archenemies. And, the LDP also wants to raise the consumption tax rate like PM Mr. Noda. Though the president of the LDP Mr. Tanigaki seems to be determined not to cooperate with PM Mr. Noda in passing the raising tax bill, he has no intention to tie up with Mr. Ozawa. Mr. Tanigaki wants to reject the Noda-version of the tax-raising bill and force Mr. Noada to dissolve the Lower House. So, there is a possibility that PM Mr. Noda will settle the matter by promising Mr. Tanigaki to dissolve the Lower House provided that the LDP should cooperate with Mr. PM Noda in passing the bill. But if a general election should be held, it is expected that many members of the Ozawa faction will lose seats and even the DPJ will lose power to be defeated by Mr. Tanigaki and his LDP. Therefore, Mr. Ozawa is afraid of a possible tie-up between PM Mr. Noda and Mr. Tanigaki of the LDP. On the other hand, Mr. Tanigaki even said to PM Mr. Noda, "You must get full support from your party, including Mr. Ozawa, if you want to pass the bill." So, Mr. Ozawa's case in the Tokyo District Court has an influence on the fate of the Noda Cabinet and the DPJ regime, since PM Mr. Noda might lose alternatives but dissolve the Lower House to ask direct support from voters.
Put extremely, a verdict tomorrow on Mr. Ozawa, a controversial but influential member of the DPJ, might lead to a regime change in Japan and installment of a new prime minister of Japan before the DPJ party-head election scheduled in this September.
(Yet, as PM Mr. Noda plans to visit Washington DC next week and hold a meeting with US President Mr. Obama, it is suspected that PM Mr. Noda has already got inside information that the court will convict Mr. Ozawa of the crime. It is because if the US thinks that PM Mr. Noda will soon lose his status, President Mr. Obama would not meet PM Mr. Noda at this point of time.)
Anyway this is the largest political issue in Japan today, though it looks like full of conspiracies.
And, whatever tomorrow's judgment might be, a losing party will surely appeal the court ruling. There can be still a long way ahead for lawmaker Mr. Ichiro Ozawa and Japanese voters.
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Mar 4:25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.