, TOKYO, Feb 11 – A Japanese lawmaker resigned from the ruling party on Thursday over a funding scandal that has hurt Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama\’s credibility.
Tomohiro Ishikawa, a 36-year-old Democratic Party lawmaker and former aide to party strongman Ichiro Ozawa, announced his resignation in the wake of his indictment by prosecutors last week.
Ozawa, the party\’s secretary general, confirmed the resignation had been accepted, telling reporters: "I believe that he does not want to trouble the party anymore."
Japanese prosecutors indicted Ishikawa over accounting irregularities at a political funding group run by Ozawa. But the party kingpin escaped charges as prosecutors said there was a lack of evidence against him.
Dubbed the "Shadow Shogun", the 67-year-old Ozawa is credited with engineering the DPJ\’s election landslide in August that ended more than half a century of almost unbroken conservative rule.
The scandal has dented the popularity of the party and Hatoyama, with support ratings for his cabinet now at around 40 percent.
Political observers expect the funding scandal to damage the party at upper house elections in July at which the DPJ hopes to secure sole control of both chambers of parliament.