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37 – The Significance of Ozawa’s Acquittal (26 Apr 2012)

The April 26 acquittal of Japan’s most important politician on charges connected with delayed reporting of a financial transfer is greatly significant for Japan and possibly its neighbors as well. Ichiro Ozawa has for almost two decades been considered as the one Japanese politician with the organizational skills; the understanding of the career officials who in practice run the country; the political network building capacity and, above all, a thorough grasp of what causes the notorious weakness at the center, to have the best chance of reforming the governing system in line with what the electorate and political specialists outside the realms of vested interests have long believed to be desirable. In 1993 he gave the crucial start signal for the reformist movement by leaving the LDP, which had been the mainstay of Japan’s de-facto one-party system since 1955, and which ruled in name only, leaving actual policy making in the hands of a dominant (and uncommonly skillfull) group of administrators within the bureaucracy. He had laid down his credo in a book advocating for Japan to become “a normal country” (with a center of political accountability), and eventually brought the various groups of reformist minded politicians...

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