Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Now It's Mr. Ozawa's Turn to Take the Heat: He'd Better Have a Good Explanation for Building a \23M Dorm on \340M, 440㎡ Land for His Aide

Mr. Ozawa, on the second day of the DPJ national convention (he seemed to have skipped the first day), told the party faithful that he would clarify the matter when he conducts the party leader questioning of the prime minister in the upcoming Diet session. And this, according to the Yomiuri, is what he said:

"It is regrettable that this is being seen in the same vein as the matters that are being debated (such as the office expenses of the cabinet members). I will stand for the party leader questioning of the prime minister at the ordinary session of the Diet and clarify matters." (07.01.16; my translation)

(Note: The Asahi website is not too illuminating, either. His words there essentially boil down to; don't worry, there are no false reports.)

Hello, you are supposed to be taking the prime minister to task at the party leader questioning, not the other way around. You are the prosecutor, the DPJ advocate; not the attorney for the defense.

Moreover, if you don't want people to think the JPD is just another protest vote party, you also want to promote a distinct, attractive DPJ agenda. The last thing you want to do is to use your allotted time to defend your political finances. That is why you want to have the matter laid to rest now. Surely you can do that; can't you, Mr. Ozawa?

My guess is that Mr. Ozawa built his top aide a decidedly middle-class house on a (for urban Tokyo Japan) vast, decidedly upper-class tract of land, to use as long as he continued to serve him. This is likely no more than an effort to reward a long-serving, faithful, top aide. An admirable sentiment. I would be tempted to do Mr. Ozawa's every bidding too, if I could live, rent-free, on a 440 square meter tract of land smack dab in the middle of Tokyo. (Even if the house itself, sadly, seems to be cheaper than even mine.)

Without incurring tax consequences, that is. Because if the tax authorities ever decide to look into the matter, the value of the imputed income to the aide above what would be considered reasonable as a non-taxable expense for the Ozawa office could be quite a tidy sum. It will not be a comfortable feeling to have the tax authorities hovering over him all the while, when he makes his pitch to the public.

Moreover, the house itself should be covering no more than a third of the land even if it were built as a one-story house; in every which way an extravagant luxury in that neighborhood. This should have political repercussions on the DPJ's efforts to portray the LDP as an uncaring, neo-Darwinist enemy of the poor and downtrodden.

Good thing his buddies are standing behind him).

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