13 Nov 2012

Ozawa cleared in funding scandal

6:02 am on 13 November 2012

An influential Japanese politician, Ichiro Ozawa, has been cleared of charges over a political funding scandal that has dogged his career for years.

The Tokyo High Court upheld his acquittal by a lower court on charges that he conspired not to report a five-million-dollar loan to his political organisation.

He had been accused of failing to report a loan of 400 million yen ($US5 million) loan to his political fund management body.

The BBC reports the money was to be used to facilitate a 2004 land deal, but Mr Ozawa said he was unaware of the technical mistake.

High Court Judge Shoji Ogawa upheld the acquittal of Mr Ozawa by a lower court in April. The prosecution had challenged the verdict.

Mr Ozawa, 70, used to have the largest faction in the ruling Democratic Party and is considered one of the most powerful men in Japanese politics.

He left the DPJ to form his own party in July after criticising Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's plans to raise the sales tax.