Japan's finance ministry to admit altering land sale documents

Official linked to Abe cronyism row found dead

Japan's finance ministry to admit altering land sale documents

The heavily discounted land deal in Osaka involving a school operator at the center of favoritism allegations against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently drawn renewed criticism following a report that relevant Finance Ministry documents were falsified.

The admission is expected to raise the heat on Finance Minister Taro Aso, and threaten to erode Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's popularity.

The death of the finance ministry employee who worked at the Kinki regional bureau is being ruled a suicide, Jiji Press reported.

Citizens groups have also held protest marches near Finance Ministry offices in Tokyo and elsewhere across Japan demanding that Sagawa step down as tax agency chief. The man left a note and police are investigating the matter as a suicide, Kyodo News said.

Telephone calls seeking ministry comment went unanswered.

After the scandal broke in February past year, Sagawa appeared in the Diet to answer questions about the deal.

More news: Juve pressured referee, says Spurs boss Pochettino

In addition, the Finance Ministry is now facing accusations by opposition lawmakers that it is covering up alterations made on official documents that approved the leasing and sale of the state-owned land to Moritomo Gakuen. The controversy is the latest set back for Abe, whose administration was forced to ditch plans for reforming the labour market after the discovery of hundreds of errors in data provided to support the legislation. But falling support could complicate his bid for a third term as Liberal Democratic Party leader in a September party vote. "But the reemergence of an old scandal, a risky constitutional revision debate looming, and potential contenders laying the groundwork for challenging Abe make it possible that he could face a tougher reelection fight than anticipated".

The original document described the land transaction between the ministry and the school operator as "exceptional", but this word was missing in the version made available to Diet members during debate about the scandal a year ago.

Mr Abe has denied allegations that either he or his wife did favours for the operator of the school, Moritomo Gakuen.

There are signs the public remains concerned about the issue.

A Japanese government worker formerly in charge of negotiations for an under-the-table land sale linked to Japanese first lady Akie Abe was found dead, investigators said Friday. The affair rocked Abe's popularity a year ago, with his approval rating at points falling below the disapproval rating, before a series of North Korean missile tests was seen to unnerve the public.

Latest News