A Japanese opposition lawmaker resigned his party post and another apologised on national TV yesterday to take responsibility for airing unproven allegations of shady links between the ruling party and a disgraced Internet entrepreneur, an incident that embarrassed their faltering party.
Lawmaker Hisayasu Nagata's failure to prove charges he made in parliament earlier this month has turned what appeared to be a rare advantage over the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) into a fiasco for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan.
In a symbolic move, the high-profile political wrangling forced the resignation of Yoshihiko Noda, head of the Democratic Party's parliamentary affairs panel, who had allowed Nagata to make the allegations.
"I am deeply sorry," Nagata said, bowing deeply in front of rows of TV cameras at a news conference just hours after he was discharged from hospital, where he said he had been treated for exhaustion and dehydration.
Nagata, who has been suspended from his party for six months, had said that Takafumi Horie, former CEO of Internet firm Livedoor Co., had ordered company officials via e-mail to pay 30 million yen (US$258,000) in consulting fees to the son of LDP Secretary-General Tsutomu Takebe.
He has produced no evidence to show that the e-mail he referred to was genuine. "In the end, I could not prove the authenticity of the information," Nagata said.
But he declined to say whether he believed the e-mail was fake, adding that the party was still investigating to see if some of the information was correct.
"If he is saying that suspicions remain, he should have shown the basis for his argument," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told reporters.
The LDP, which had backed Horie as a reform candidate in last September's general election, came under fire after the entrepreneur was arrested last month and indicted on charges of breaking securities laws.
Takebe had been a particularly enthusiastic supporter of Horie's candidacy, referring to him as "my younger brother, my son" in a speech on the campaign trail, but has repeatedly said allegations of a payment were false.
Source: China Daily