Minister: Files altered in scam dogging Abe
Japan’s finance minister admitted on March 12 that official documents related to a favoritism scandal dogging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been altered, but denied any plans to step down over the row.
Abe’s government has faced mounting pressure in recent days over the 2016 sale of state-owned land to one of his supporters at a price well below market value.
“Changing official documents is very grave and extremely regrettable and I deeply apologize,” Finance Minister Taro Aso said at a hastily convened press conference.
“What is important is that these things don’t happen again,” Aso added.
The scandal first emerged early last year, but resurfaced after the revelation that official documents related to the sale had been altered. Aso blamed the changes on “some staff members” at the ministry, and said he had only learned about them on March 11.
And he dismissed suggestions that he might resign over the scandal.
“I am not thinking about that at all,” he said.
He said 14 changes had been made to the documents but said he did not believe the alterations were intended to protect Abe and his wife.
Versions of the original and the doctored documents published Monday by opposition lawmakers appeared to show Abe’s name had been scrubbed, along with that of his wife Akie, and Aso.
“What became clear is that they debased democracy,” by lying to parliament, said opposition lawmaker Renho, who uses one name.