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Japan political power broker acquitted in fund scandal as court rejects prosecution appeal

A Japanese high court has acquitted a key political power broker, saying there was no evidence he committed a crime during a 2004 land deal.

The Tokyo High Court's acquittal Monday clears the way for Ichiro Ozawa to exert sway in looming parliamentary elections.

The 70-year-old was charged last year with violating political funding laws. The high court upheld a lower court's ruling that there was no evidence to support claims that Ozawa's aides acted under his orders and doctored accounting records in the land deal.

While the scandal has damaged Ozawa's chances of becoming prime minister, he has kept wielding political influence. In October, he and 48 followers broke away from the Democrats and launched their own party after opposing a tax hike plan.

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