Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Shadow Shogun, The Destroyer and Backroom Fixer.
Japan’s ruling party kingpin, Ichiro Ozawa, has earned several less-than-flattering nicknames for an approach to politics that has seen him shaking up government in the country for decades, culminating in his party’s historic election victory last August.
Ozawa’s tough, combative image was reinforced when he vowed in public to fight against prosecutors after three of his current and former aides were arrested on suspicion of misreporting political funds. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said he would stay in his key position as the Democratic Party’s secretary-general.
But Ozawa’s tone seems to have changed slightly recently as voter support for the party has increasingly eroded due to the deepening scandal, ahead of a mid-year election .
I was at his news conference after Ozawa was questioned by prosecutors for more than four hours over the scandal. He appeared his usual determined and confident self, but seemed to choose words carefully to avoid provoking either prosecutors or the Japanese media.
Just one month after U.S. President Barack Obama set off a furore in the blogosphere with his deep bow to Japanese Emperor Akihito, the elderly royal is back in the headlines due to a hastily arranged audience granted to China’s heir apparent.
Visiting foreign dignitaries are often granted audiences with the emperor — nothing unusual there.
The image, borrowed from a famed 13th century episode in which a huge typhoon destroyed a Mongol fleet that set out to invade Japan, captured the shock impact of the scandal, which is clouding prospects of Ozawa’s Democratic Party winning an election this year.