April 24, 2018

Sagawa to testify in Diet on March 27 over falsified files

21 March 2018, 03:59 | Darrell Baldwin

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe with his head in his hands

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe with his head in his hands

Versions of the original and doctored documents made public by opposition lawmakers appeared to show passing references to Abe were scrubbed, along with several references to his wife and Finance Minister Taro Aso.

While vowing to thoroughly investigate the protracted and still-unfolding scandal to definitively explaine why the documents related to the dubious sale were deliberately altered, Abe admitted that a recent plunge in support ratings were of serious concern.

"Both leaders agreed to continue to work closely together for the denuclearisation of North Korea with preparations underway for summits between the two Koreas and between the USA and North Korea".

While leaders from other industrial nations in Europe and North America have seen relations with Russian Federation sour, Abe has maintained cordial ties with Putin as he seeks Russia's support in dealing with North Korea and the return of islands occupied by Russian Federation since the end of World War Two.

During Monday's special session in the Upper House Budget Committee, Abe repeated that neither he nor his wife played any part in the Finance Ministry's decision to lease land in Osaka Prefecture to school operator Moritomo Gakuen in 2015, or to sell the state land at a deep discount to Moritomo in 2016.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is now embroiled in a cut-price land deal scandal said on Tuesday he hoped to regain the public's rapidly eroding trust.

On Monday, the embattled leader reasserted that he and his wife had no involvement in the cut-price land deal with the involved nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen, neither in the more recent revelations of document-tampering related to the shady deal. Abe has denied wrongdoing.

Mrs Abe resigned as honorary principal.

Why did the scandal resurface?

More than 80 percent of respondents to the Asahi poll said Abe bore responsibility for the adjustment of the documents. This has sparked allegations of a high-level cover-up.

Aso has blamed the alterations on "some staff members" at the ministry.

The Finance Ministry confirmed last week that changes were made to 14 documents before the revised versions were disclosed to lawmakers a year ago.

The LDP and Komeito have agreed to refuse calls for testimony by Hidenori Sakota, who led the Finance Ministry's Financial Bureau in the run-up to the sale, and Saeko Tani, Akie Abe's aide at the time, who Kagoike claimed made inquiries with the ministry about the plot of land at his request in 2015.

The prime minister repeated an apology, saying he "keenly felt" his responsibility over the scandal that has "shaken people's confidence in government administration".

The prime minister's approval ratings have dropped to below 30%, according to polls conducted by Japanese media over the weekend.

If Sagawa's appearance fails to bear fruit, the opposition could strengthen calls for Akie Abe's sworn testimony, something the government has refused to authorize.

There have been nightly protests around Mr Abe's office over the past week demanding his resignation.

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