Japan`s kingmaker vows to stay on as scandal widens
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Last Updated: Saturday, January 16, 2010, 17:24
Tokyo: Ichiro Ozawa, the kingmaker of Japan's ruling coalition, said today he had no plans to quit over his alleged involvement in a growing political funding scandal and vowed to clear his name.

Prosecutors arrested a ruling party lawmaker and two others -- all close to Ozawa -- on yesterday and today over alleged financial irregularities within his political funding group, which has already been raided by investigators.

But Ozawa, secretary-general of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan, told its annual convention that he has never used "any illegal funds at all".

"I am going to fulfil my given job with full force," Ozawa said as the audience, including state ministers and the party's coalition partners, applauded loudly at a conference hall in central Tokyo.

"I'm determined to fight decisively by standing in my belief," said Ozawa, 67, adding that he planned to accuse prosecutors of abuse of power over the case.

Hatoyama backed Ozawa, telling the convention: "Secretary-general Ozawa said he has never done anything to violate regulations. As president of the DPJ, I believe in Ozawa."

But analysts and local media said the scandal is dealing a serious blow to Hatoyama, whose support continued to slide following a separate money scandal involving the premier himself.


First Published: Saturday, January 16, 2010, 17:24

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