Japanese pol pressed to quit if indicted

Dec. 26, 2010 at 3:46 PM

TOKYO, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Leading politician Ichiro Ozawa should quit Japan's ruling party if he is indicted, a Cabinet official said Sunday.

''A mandatory indictment is still an indictment,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said on a TV Asahi program, referring to a citizens' jury decision that Ozawa should be charged for financial irregularities even though prosecutors earlier decided not to act.

''I believe he will make a decision on his next course of action on his own,'' Sengoku said.

Sengoku said the Democratic Party of Japan will have to decide Ozawa's fate after his indictment, which is expected in January. Ozawa is a former party president and current Parliament member.

Three former secretaries of Ozawa have been indicted on charges of violating a political funding law, but the Tokyo prosecutor twice decided not to charge him for lack of evidence, Kyodo News reported.

In October, however, the independent citizens' panel decreed Ozawa should be indicted over his political fund's alleged false reporting of 340 million yen ($4.1 million) in spending and failure to report 400 million yen ($4.8 million) in loans.

Under Japanese law, a suspect must be indicted if an inquest panel decides twice to do so.

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