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Politicians summon Akie Abe as Japan scandal grows

By
Elizabeth Shim
Japanese first lady Akie Abe is being asked to appear before parliament to address questions from the opposition regarding the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. File Photo by EPA/KIMMO BRANDT
Japanese first lady Akie Abe is being asked to appear before parliament to address questions from the opposition regarding the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. File Photo by EPA/KIMMO BRANDT

March 15 (UPI) -- Japan's political opposition is demanding Japanese first lady Akie Abe appear before parliament to address the issue of manipulated documents that pertain to the illicit sale of land.

Charges against Akie Abe and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the under-the-table land sale to a right-wing school, Moritomo Gakuen, are growing in Japan, as others are asking for the resignation of Finance Minister Taro Aso,

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Protests are also growing in Tokyo.

Aso, who was in charge of the ministry when documents were tampered with, has denied misconduct, but the scandal has culminated in his decision to not attend a gathering of the G-20 countries in Argentina, where important economic issues like U.S. trade tariffs are on the agenda, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

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The call for Akie Abe's appearance before parliament comes from opposition politicians like Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a Japanese politician from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

"I can't really understand her perception. Does she understand her own position?" Tsujimoto said, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

The comment from Tsujimoto addressed responses from the first lady to remarks made on Facebook berating politicians who are requesting investigations into the scandal.

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Akie Abe had "liked" a comment from a Facebook user who had written, "It's tough for your husband every day as he faces ridiculous questions from the opposition parties, isn't it?"

The finance ministry had removed the first lady's name before the documents were presented to parliament, and 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.

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.

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