[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Japanese politician Ozawa goes on trial
One of Japan's most influential politicians pleads not guilty to charges of breaking political fund-raising laws.
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2011 08:39
Ozawa has been nicknamed Prince of Darkness for his reputation of mastering backdroom deals [EPA]

Ichiro Ozawa, one of Japan's most influential politicians, has gone on trial on charges of breaking political fund-raising laws.

The controversial politician pleaded not guilty on Thursday to the charges that could dent his reputation, regardless of the outcome of the trial.

Three of his former aides were convicted last week over the scandal, which relates to a 2004 land deal.

Ozawa, who has played a pivotal political role for four decades, most recently as a power broker in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, said the charges appeared aimed at destroying him "politically and socially". 
 
"The charges are based on a statement obtained in an inappropriate investigation and this trial should be terminated at once," he told a panel of three judges.

"One can presume this is aimed at destroying me socially and politically. This is a clear abuse of state power."

Regardless of the trial's outcome, analysts say his influence will continue to wane as a result of generational
shift within his party and public distaste for the old-style shadowy politics of which he is seen as a symbol.

Ozawa's mastery of backroom deals has earned him nicknames of Prince of Darkness and Shadow Shogun.

The trial, expected to conclude in April, centres on charges that a body handling his political funds misreported flows linked to a 2004 land deal and that Ozawa was aware of that.

If found guilty, Ozawa faces up to five years in jail or fines of up to 1m yen ($13,000).

He was credited by many for orchestrating the Democrats' historic victory in the 2009 election but lost a party leadership race in 2010 to then-prime minister Naoto Kan. In June, he failed in his attempt to remove Kan through a no-confidence vote.

Finally, a candidate backed by Ozawa to succeed Kan was defeated by Yoshihiko Noda, a favourite of Ozawa's critics.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.