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.
Often said to prefer to rule from the shadows, ruling party Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa dominated the front pages of most of Japan’s major newspapers on Thursday, after giving Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama what reports said was a dressing down over government spending the previous day.
Ozawa and other party officials had presented Hatoyama and several cabinet ministers with a list of suggestions that included scaling back a key election promise to provide universal child allowances and abandoning a pledge to abolish an unpopular levy on gasoline.