Japanese Lawmaker Hospitalized After Court Hearing

Posted October 6th, 2011 at 9:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Former Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa was hospitalized late Thursday, hours after the first hearing of his trial on charges of violating fund-raising laws.

Japanese news reports say Ozawa was transported to hospital by ambulance from his Tokyo home after complaining of pain in his mid-section. Details of his condition are not yet known.

Earlier, after pleading not guilty to charges of falsification of funding reports at the Tokyo District Court, the 69-year old lawmaker said he has no intention of resigning. He said neither he nor his former aides committed any wrongdoing.

Ozawa is credited with masterminding Japan's ruling party's historic victory in 2009.

Prosecutors say that he knowingly falsified reports to hide a $5.2-million loan he made to his political fund-raising body to facilitate a land deal in 2004. Three former aides were convicted on related charges last week.

Ozawa denounced the investigation as illegal and urged the court to end the proceedings immediately. The trial is expected to last until April.

Prosecutors initially decided not to prosecute Ozawa, but they changed course after a panel of ordinary citizens called for his indictment.

The veteran politician, nicknamed “the shadow shogun” for his behind-the-scenes deal-making, was forced to step down as head of the Democratic Party of Japan before the 2009 elections due to the fund-raising scandal.

He fell short in a bid to regain his leadership post last year to then-prime minister Naoto Kan, and his choice to succeed Kan last month lost the race for DPJ party leadership to Yoshihiko Noda.

Despite the scandal, Ozawa has retained a loyal core of supporters within the DPJ.