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An unfortunate incident

March 5, 2009

We were coasting towards a general election, with the ruling jimintou (LDP) slowly destroying themselves, and the opposition minshutou (DPJ) not really doing much of anything except looking forward to being the next government.

The Prime Minister is rated as one of the most unpopular ever, and not a week seems to go by without the government somehow managing to become even less likeable.  Something truly extraordinary and unlikely would have to happen to keep the DPJ from winning the next election…

And then, with what a cynic might call ‘expert’ timing, a SCANDAL!

Goodness, who was expecting that?

For the leader of the opposition, Ichiro Ozawa, the shit had suddenly hit the fan.

Takanori Okubo, 47, Ozawa’s government-paid aide, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of falsifying fund reports concerning political donations believed to have come from scandal-tainted Nishimatsu Construction Co.

The media mob collectively lost what was left of their minds. Every news show, morning show, ‘wide’ show, was devoted to the “developing story”. Gangs of reporters feverishly gathered up their pitchforks and torches and went on the march to DPJ headquarters to await explanations, apologies, and resignations.

ozawa-001

Ozawa gave a combative press conference the next morning, announcing he hadn’t the slightest intention of giving them what they wanted.

“I have done nothing to be ashamed of. The donations were dealt with appropriately under the law, reported (to authorities) and made public.”

Ozawa didn’t (quite) go as far as to accuse the LDP of muck-raking and opportunistic headline-making, but he certainly made a few references to ‘the timing’ of the scandal, to which Richard Lloyd-Parry of the Times added that investigators might have come across the connection to Ozawa’s office purely by chance…

But there are many who will regard the timing of the current investigation as a strange coincidence, and suspect collusion between the LDP and the prosecutors’ office.

Indeed the DPJ later issued a statement in which the leader was given unconditional support, with secretary general Yukio Hatoyama saying that, given the timing of the investigation, “it is natural to suspect that the public prosecutors have a political motive.”

When asked to comment, Prime Minister Taro Aso gave ‘no comment’ except to say, “It would be unfortunate if this leads to public mistrust in politics.”

Very unfortunate indeed, Prime Minister.

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