Shinzo Abe struggling to contain fallout from scandal land deal

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, issued an apology today after the country’s Finance Ministry admitted tampering with official documents to remove references to him and First Lady Akie Abe.

 

The long-running scandal puts the leader’s political future in doubt as he prepares to seek an unprecedented third term in office later this year.

 

 

What is the scandal about? It centres on a controversial 2016 sale of state-owned land in Osaka at a steeply discounted price. This led to public outrage as soon as it became public knowledge. Much to the dislike of the current administration.

 

Opposition leaders allege that another reason for the discount was the Abe administration’s support for the school’s ultranationalist curriculum. The deal has already prompted the resignation of the head of the National Tax Agency, Nobuhisa Sagawa, following allegations that he was responsible for the redactions.

 

In a separate scandal last year, Abe faced allegations that he helped Kotaro Kake, a friend and high-profile businessman, win approval to establish a new private veterinary school.

 

Abe has long has denied that either he or his wife did any favours for the school operator, and has vowed to resign if evidence was found linking him to the deal.

 

Speaking after it emerged that documents had been falsified, the PM said: “The situation has shaken public trust in the whole administration, and as its head, I feel responsibility and deeply apologise to the people.”

 

The altered documents have fueled suspicions of a cover-up, which could be more damaging to Abe and his finance minister, Taro Aso, than the original land sale itself.

 

Reference: Japan’s cronyism scandal: pressure mounts on Shinzo Abe

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