CORRECTED – CORRECTED-CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Japan PM wants Ozawa to stay on for

(Corrects paragraph 6 to … if former aide Tomohiro Ishikawa
were indicted, not arrested)

(For more on Japanese politics, click on ID:nPOLJP])

* Ruling party kingpin seen as master campaign strategist

* Former Ozawa aide will be charged on Thursday-media

* Party eyes key election expected in July

(Adds comments, details)

By Isabel Reynolds

TOKYO, Feb 2 (BestGrowthStock) – Japanese Prime Minister Yukio
Hatoyama said on Tuesday he wanted ruling party kingpin Ichiro
Ozawa, whose aides have been arrested in a funding scandal, to
stay in his post for a mid-year election.

One former aide will be charged over the affair on
Thursday, media reports say, adding to pressure on Ozawa to
resign as Secretary-General of the ruling Democratic Party
ahead of a key upper house election expected in July.

Ozawa’s skills as a campaign strategist would be valuable
in the election, in which the party needs to win a majority to
enable it to pass bills smoothly without relying on an awkward
coalition with two tiny parties.

“Looking at his work up to now, of course, I want him to be
in control for the election,” Hatoyama told reporters.

But the scandal ensnaring three current and former aides to
Ozawa has sapped voter support for the four-month-old
~~~ For graphic on voter support, see 3g
~~~ A newspaper survey published on Monday showed that more
t han three quarters of voters thought Ozawa should step down
if former aide Tomohiro Ishikawa were indicted.

Ozawa hinted on Monday he might resign if he came under
suspicion of criminal activity himself. But he denied having
taken any illegal contributions or bribes.

Some analysts believe the 67-year-old is unlikely to step
down for the time being.

“I don’t think he will resign,” said political analyst
Harumi Arima. “By engineering the Democratic Party election
victory last year, he thinks he has shown his worth in a
different way from opinion polls.

“The problem is that anti-Ozawa opinion is rising within
the party,” he added. “People are worried that they might end
up with parliamentary gridlock like the Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) did.”

The long-ruling LDP struggled for more than two years with
an upper house dominated by opposition parties, which delayed
much legislation.

Renewed policy paralysis would be particularly damaging for
Hatoyama’s government at this point as it struggles to balance
the need for economic stimulus with massive public debt and
structural problems such as the rapidly ageing population.

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(For a newsmaker on Ichiro Ozawa, click on [ID:nnTOE60F01D])
(Editing by Ron Popeski)

CORRECTED – CORRECTED-CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Japan PM wants Ozawa to stay on for