Published: Wed, March 21, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Key figure in Japan land scandal to testify in parliament March 27

Key figure in Japan land scandal to testify in parliament March 27

Besides Sagawa's testimony, opposition lawmakers are demanding Akie Abe and other officials testify in the Diet, making it unlikely that Sagawa's appearance as a sworn witness will draw a clear line under the whole affair.

Putin's victory in the polls extends his rule until 2024, but Abe's public support has been pummelled by a scandal over the sale of public land to a school supported by his wife and subsequent alterations to documents relating to the deal.

"I did not direct that the documents be altered", he said.

Opposition parties had been calling for the summoning of Nobuhisa Sagawa, who stepped down as head of the National Tax Agency, a unit of the Finance Ministry, earlier this month.

On Tuesday, the LDP told the opposition Democratic Party of a plan to hear Sagawa's testimony in the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors on the morning of March 27 and the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives in the afternoon.

Kiyomi Tsujimoto, Diet affairs chief of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said that summoning Sagawa "is just the first step" and the matter "won't be settled" unless Akie Abe appears.

Sagawa is expected to be asked how and why the edits were made, who gave the orders to do so and whether there was political involvement in the decision. Between February and April of a year ago, while Sagawa led the ministry's Financial Bureau, officials deleted key details from 14 documents related to that sale, including the particulars of price negotiations over the land and all references to Akie Abe.

Interrogated by a parliamentary panel yesterday, Abe denied directing changes to the documents, in which references to Abe, his wife and Aso were removed from the finance ministry's records of the land sale.

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Mitsuru Ota, the current Financial Bureau chief, alleged Friday that Sagawa "was probably heavily involved" in the alterations.

There appears to be no easy way out for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from the debacle he is now facing.

"The Abe government's attitude is entirely called into question", Fukuyama said.

Opposition lawmakers alleged that the tempering, which started soon after Abe stated in parliament in mid-February past year that he would step down if any proof of his or his wife's involvement was found, might have been aimed at protecting Abe.

On Monday, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Tetsuro Fukuyama accused Abe of betraying parliament for almost a year. Should the LDP renege on its implicit pledge, the opposition could throw parliament into chaos again, endangering budget-related bills that carry economic consequences if they are not passed by the end of March. The LDP is due to hold a leadership vote in September.

Yet for all the effort to ensure Sagawa's testimony, his answers are not guaranteed to shed light on the scandal.

The opposition bloc went on the offensive, seemingly encouraged by the Cabinet's plummeting public support rates in several opinion polls over the weekend.

"We don't know how we're going to bring this under control", one senior LDP official admitted.

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