The Borneo Post (Sabah)
Japan PM, finance minister face mounting pressure over suspected cronyism scandal
TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ally, Finance Minister Taro Aso, face mounting pressure over a suspected cronyism scandal as the finance ministry prepares to report today that documents in the case were doctored.
Abe, now in his sixth year in office, had hoped to put the issue of the sale of state-owned land at a huge discount to a school operator with ties to his wife, Akie, behind him.
But it has gathered steam with a series of fresh revelations.
A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Saturday the finance ministry planned to report to parliament today that it had found instances where content was deleted from documents submitted to lawmakers.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity.
“If this is true, isn’t political responsibility unavoidable?” Akira Nagatsuma, a senior lawmaker in the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters yesterday.
Abe has repeatedly denied he or his wife did favours for school operator Moritomo Gakuen, which bought the land, and has said he would resign if evidence were found that they had.
The issue last year sharply eroded Abe’s popularity.
Former Moritomo Gakuen head Yasunori Kagoike and his wife were arrested in July on suspicion of illegally receiving subsidies.
On Friday, National Tax Agency chief Nobuhisa Sagawa abruptly resigned over his remarks in parliament about the case.
Also on Friday, media said police were investigating as possible suicide the death of a finance ministry official whose local office had handled the land sale.
“If Minister Aso signed off on National Tax Agency chief Sagawa’s resignation knowing about the falsified documents, moves seeking his resignation are inevitable,” Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, told reporters. — Reuters