Ozawa steps down following Nishimatsu scandal
13 May 2009
Ichiro Ozawa has resigned as leader of Japan's opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DJP) more than two months after being embroiled in a funding scandal with contractor Nishimatsu.
Although initially backed by the DJP, constant coverage in the Japanese media was the key reason Mr Ozawa cited for his resignation. "There have been news reports every day. I can't let this go on and destabilise the party," he said at a news conference.
The DJP funding scandal relates to investigations by Tokyo prosecutors into alleged offshore slush funds that were set up some years ago by Nishimatsu. As well as being illegal in their own right, it is also alleged that these funds were used to make illegal political donations to the DJP.Under Japanese law, politicians are not allowed to receive corporate donations. The DJP, allegedly with Mr Ozawa's knowledge, may also have committed fraud if it colluded with Nishimatsu to conceal the origin and nature of any payments.