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Japan scandal links Shinzo Abe to tampered documents

By
Elizabeth Shim
Japanese first lady Akie Abe (L) is in the spotlight after evidence was found indicating manipulation of documents for an under-the-table land sale for Abe's associate Yasunori Kaogike. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Japanese first lady Akie Abe (L) is in the spotlight after evidence was found indicating manipulation of documents for an under-the-table land sale for Abe's associate Yasunori Kaogike. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

March 2 (UPI) -- Documents related to an under-the-table land sale involving Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife, Akie Abe, may have been manipulated before they were presented to Tokyo's parliament, according to a Japanese press report.

The Asahi Shimbun reported Friday the land in Toyonaka City in Osaka Prefecture, which changed hands in 2016 at a deeply discounted price of $1.2 million, could have been presented with key information deleted from the text.

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The original document pertaining to the sale of state-owned land included problematic words like "special" and "exceptional," according to the report.

Those expressions were removed before lawmakers saw the documents pertaining to the sale of land with a market value of $7.2 million.

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Other content was removed, including parts of a timeline of negotiations with Moritomo Gakuen, a foundation that operates Tsukamoto kindergarten, headed by a principal who encouraged racist views.

Information on how various bureau officials responded to requests from Moritomo Gakuen was also deleted, according to the report.

Akie Abe 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.

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On Friday Finance Minister Taro Aso was not cooperating with queries from opposition party lawmakers regarding the altered documents.

Kyodo News and Jiji Press reported Friday the head of Moritomo Gakuen and his spouse have been indicted on unrelated subsidy fraud charges.

Yasunori Kaogike had earlier claimed the Japanese prime minister had made a $9,000 cash donation to his school and the Japanese first lady personally delivered him the envelope of money in 2015.

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None of those charges have affected Abe's political career since the scandal first broke in 2016.

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