Scandal disrupts Diet proceedings

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Both Japan’s prime minister and finance minister are in the hot seat amid a political scandal over how state documents were tampered with.


In Diet deliberations on Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he has never ordered documents to be altered.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said that he has never given such instructions to officials.

The documents involve the sale of government land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen for millions of dollars below its market value.

Abe’s wife, Akie, was set to become the school’s honorary principal.


The ministry has admitted to altering more than a dozen documents. The alterations removed Akie’s name and the fact that the price of the land was negotiated in advance.

Some of the altered documents were submitted to the Diet after the scandal broke last year.

Mitsuru Ota, director-general of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau, has hinted at the possible involvement of his predecessor.

Ota noted that Nobuhisa Sagawa headed the Financial Bureau at that time, and that Sagawa answered questions during Diet discussions of the issue.

Ota said that it is believed that the extent of Sagawa’s involvement may have been quite large.

Sagawa became National Tax Agency chief in July, but he resigned last week.

Six opposition parties say they will continue to demand that Sagawa be summoned to the Diet to testify.

Kiyomi Tsujimoto of the Constitutional Democratic Party said they want to hear what the prime minister’s wife has to say.

The prime minister said it’s up to the Diet to decide whether to call Sagawa to speak. Abe says neither he nor his wife had anything to do with the land deal.

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