22 April 2018
In 2016 government sold state-owned land to the educational group called Moritomo Gakuen. The group had ties to Abe and his wife Akie. The sale was well below the market price. This education firm filed for bankruptcy in October 2017, following another scandal implicating the company in fraudulent claims of state subsidies.
The scandal resurfaced after it came to light that the original sale documents were subsequently doctored. The original and doctored documents were made public by opposition lawmakers. The alteration removed passing references to Abe along with several references to his wife Akie and Finance Minister Taro Aso. The Finance Minister blamed “some staff members” at the ministry for the alteration. A Japanese government official committed suicide after leaving a note saying he thought he would be forced to take sole responsibility for forgery related to a government land sale.
Taro Aso told reporters that another senior official involved in the scandal, Nobuhisa Sagawa, had decided to step down after lawmakers and the public demanded his resignation.
Mr Yasunori Kagoike, the purchaser of the land, and his wife were arrested on suspicion of illegally receiving subsidies.
Last year, Abe was grilled by the nation’s Diet, or legislature regarding allegations that he helped his friend Kotaro Kake, director of the Kake Gakuen Education Institution, to get approval for a private veterinary school which was not needed. It was the first new veterinary department approved in Japan for over 50 years.
Although Abe was not involved there were several corruption scandals involving his cabinet members and associates which will affect him in the next election or may even force him to step down even before the election. Asahi News Network poll shows Abe’s approval rating decline by 11.7 percent to just 32.6 while, his disapproval rose 13.2 percent to 54.9 percent.
Last year, Abe’s Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, a close associate of Abe, was accused of helping to cover-up of documents detailing a worsening security situation during a peacekeeping operation in South Sudan that involved Japanese soldiers.
In another scandal Japan’s agriculture minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, 62,hanged himself just hours before he was due to face questioning over an alleged expenses scandal, police and officials said. Mr Matsuoka, faced severe pressure over a series of alleged misdeeds, He was found unconscious inside his Tokyo apartment, the chief cabinet secretary, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, told reporters. He died later in hospital. An autopsy showed he had hanged himself, Tokyo police said.
Administrative Vice Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda is accused of harassing female reporters. Fukuda denied the allegations but resigned over the matter.
Compounding his domestic crisis Abe also faces a crisis in the international front. Trump is bent on getting an agreement with Kim Jong-un to succeed where his predecessors have failed, and to deflect attention away from his Robert Mueller investigation. In May, when Trump meets Kim he may agree to the withdrawal of 28,500 troops in South Korea and or the 50,000 or so troops in Japan. This will have a serious impact in the domestic politics of Japan. Abe may well become a victim. Trump may also abandon the issue of Japan’s “abductees”, citizens kidnapped from Japan by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.