March 27 (UPI) -- Japan's former national tax agency chief is denying any involvement from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe or the first lady in the manipulation of documents pertaining to an illicit land sale to Moritomo Gakuen, a school foundation with links to Akie Abe.
Nobuhisa Sagawa, director-general of the financial bureau of the finance ministry at the time of the land sale, told Japanese parliament he is the chief agent responsible for the falsified documents, The Japan Times reported Tuesday.
"It was never reported to the prime minister's office. It's something that was conducted internally by the financial bureau," Sagawa said.
When asked about the deletion of key words in the documents, including Akie Abe's name, Sagawa declined to answer questions.
"Prosecutors are in the middle of investigations, I am the subject of the investigations, so I will avoid answering out of concern for criminal charges," Sagawa said, according to Japanese television network NHK.
The former finance ministry official declined to answer questions a total of 46 times from 17 different parliamentarians, according to the report.
Akie Abe has previously denied involvement with Moritomo Gakuen but later stepped down as honorary principal at the foundation's planned elementary school following news reports of the 2016 land sale.
The land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, was sold in June 2016 for less than $1.3 million, but has a market value of more than $7 million.
In early March, a Japanese government worker in charge of negotiations for the land sale was found dead in his home, and local authorities ruled the death a suicide.
Protesters have demanded Abe's resignation following the scandal.