What do you make of the acquittal of Mr. Ozawa? Do you think that there is a real chance he might get into big politics again and perhaps even into the limelight?
Well, yes, during his life in a big Japanese politics Ozawa showed several times that he may reemerge as a phoenix bird from any difficult situation. He created several parties, he abandoned several parties, he was several times expelled from parties and still he is in a big Japanese politics and knows that he has many followers in the ruling Democratic Party. And yes, he has already said that he is interested in once again ruling the party and to be in a big Japanese politics. And his views on several major issues such as the rise of taxation are different from those of the existing leaders of the Democratic Party.
So, his return to politics inevitably will create a difficult situation for the Prime Minister Noda and I don’t exclude that in the coming elections, they should take place later this summer, he will create a situation in which Ozawa will have even more followers in the ruling party and he may return to the highest positions in the party.
Some are saying that his reputation has been dented by the scandal. Is that really so?
Yes, of course but his reputation has always been not so good and still despite everything he has many followers in the ruling party, especially among young deputies. And as we know in the Japanese politics you may be blamed for many wrongdoings but still you may stay as a very influential one. And there are many such examples in the Japanese history and such persons as Kakuei Tanaka was also under accusations of bribery, and he was expelled from the ruling party, but still without his support no one Japanese politician was able to become the Prime Minister.
Now, some of my colleagues are insisting that Mr. Ozawa shares pro-Chinese sympathies but what are his foreign policy sympathies in general and is this assessment correct of course?
Well, yes, it is sad and his reputation is such that he is, I can’t say a pro-Chinese politician, but that he is very much interested in making relations with China. It is his priority and he visited China many times, he has many politicians close to him in China. And he once organized a trip of more than 600 Japanese deputies of the Parliament and politicians to visit China, and all the 600 politicians were received by the leaders of China. So, I can say that yes, he is very much interested to have broad and intense contacts with China.
How about the United States?
Inevitably he is not an anti-American politician and it is impossible to be an anti-American politician in Japan. Of course he will stay for the security alliance with the United States and I don’t think he will change the main course of the Japanese foreign policy. He is more interested in just a political game, I would say, and a political game inside Japan, more than in the foreign policy. And he is of course known as a politician who may take some bold decisions in the foreign policy. We remember that in the last days of the Soviet Union he came to Moscow to meet with Gorbachev and there were many rumors that he proposed to buy the northern territories to provide the Soviet Union with a big sum of money and in return to receive back those four islands.