Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday rejected a renewed opposition demand to summon Akie Abe and a key former bureaucrat for sworn Diet testimony about a government favoritism scandal involving school operator Moritomo Gakuen, once linked to the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The development came a day after the government reported to the Diet that more than 200 items in 14 sets of Finance Ministry documents on a state land plot that was leased, and then sold at a huge discount, to Moritomo were altered after the controversial land sale came to light in mid-February 2017.
The changes to the documents include the removal of the name of Akie Abe, who was once appointed honorary principal of a primary school that Moritomo had planned to establish on the site in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture. Moritomo gave up the school plan after coming under fire over the land deal.
Finance Minister Taro Aso said Monday that Nobuhisa Sagawa, then chief of the ministry’s Financial Bureau, had final responsibility for the document alteration.
On Tuesday, opposition parties boycotted a key Diet hearing on the government’s fiscal 2018 draft budget, over the deepening Moritomo scandal.
LDP Diet affairs chief Hiroshi Moriyama, at a meeting with Kiyomi Tsujimoto, his counterpart from the major opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said that it is “difficult” to summon Akie Abe and Sagawa as sworn witnesses at the Diet, as demanded by the opposition side.
At a press conference on the day, Aso again denied that he will step down over the document fraud, saying, “Unraveling the cause of the document tampering and devising measures to prevent similar practice are my mission.”