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Ichiro Ozawa

Japan political power broker acquitted in scandal

Ichiro Ozawa, the veteran Japanese lawmaker who engineered the ruling party's rise to power, was acquitted Thursday in a political funding scandal that has damaged his chances of becoming prime minister.The scandal also cost Ozawa his membership in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, though he has continued to wield great influence as a political power broker. The acquittal means his membership could be reinstated, allowing him to exert even more sway.The 69-year-old was charged last year with violating political funding laws by allegedly overseeing false accounting by his former aides in a murky 2004 land deal. Prosecutors claimed the three aides, who were convicted last year and have since appealed, acted under Ozawa's orders, but the Tokyo District Court said it found no evidence of that.Though Ozawa played a key role in the party's historic rise to power in 2009, defeating the long-ruling conservatives, he is unpopular with voters and has a negative image as an old-style, wheelin...

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