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LEAD: DPJ looks into new info on links between Livedoor, LDP's Takebe+
[February 21, 2006]

LEAD: DPJ looks into new info on links between Livedoor, LDP's Takebe+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Feb. 21_(Kyodo) _ (EDS: RECASTING WITH DPJ LEADER MAEHARA'S COMMENTS)

Democratic Party of Japan President Seiji Maehara said Tuesday his party is considering revealing new information about the links between Internet firm Livedoor Co. and Tsutomu Takebe, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

"Livedoor's case is a deep-rooted issue. At the core of the issue are links with LDP Secretary General Takebe...Our party is scrutinizing fresh information," Maehara told a news conference.

Maehara, head of the main opposition party, was commenting on allegations that Livedoor founder Takafumi Horie ordered in a company e-mail that 30 million yen be transferred to Takebe's younger son as a fee for electoral consultancy work.

Horie, then president of Livedoor, ran unsuccessfully in last year's general election for the House of Representatives as an LDP-backed independent.

The DPJ leader dodged a reporter's question on how he would take responsibility for raising the issue of the e-mail if it proved to be fabricated, only saying his party will continue efforts to promote probes into the scandal.

Meanwhile, several senior DPJ lawmakers said earlier Tuesday that the party thinks it will be difficult to prove the authenticity of the e-mail, which a party lawmaker alleges was sent by Horie.

The party will continue to demand that the Diet exercise its investigative powers by looking into the facts and check related bank accounts, the lawmakers said.

The LDP and its junior coalition partner, the New Komeito party, are set to go on the offensive, accusing the DPJ of bringing out the e-mail at the legislature without any clear supporting evidence.

In response to the coalition's demand for such evidence, the DPJ has started its own investigations to prove the credibility of a freelance journalist who tipped the party off about the e-mail and to look into the format of the e-mail in detail, the senior lawmakers said.

The party's investigations have failed to discover the e-mail address of either the sender or the recipient.

One senior DPJ lawmaker said the e-mail will inevitably stir doubts about its authenticity, adding that the party will now focus on pursuing the related bank accounts instead.

Another senior DPJ lawmaker, however, said that only Hisayasu Nagata, the DPJ member in the House of Representatives who took up the e-mail issue at a Budget Committee session last Thursday, believes in its authenticity.

The DPJ presented a copy of the e-mail to the executive board of the Budget Committee on Monday and called on it to exercise its investigative powers.

Yoshihiko Noda, chairman of the DPJ Diet Affairs Committee, said Tuesday his party is interested in investigating several bank accounts at home and abroad and that a probe would clarify doubts about exchanges of money.

Horie was indicted last Thursday for alleged accounting fraud. He has been detained since his arrest Jan. 23.

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