Japan: Shinzo Abe's political future in doubt as wife linked to cronyism scandal

Pressure mounted on Tuesday (March 13) on Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over a ballooning cronyism and cover-up scandal, as a new poll showed his support at the lowest level since his re-election in October.

Copies of documents seen by Reuters showed that references to Abe, his wife and Aso were removed from finance ministry records of the sale of state-owned land to a school operator with ties to Abe's wife.

The controversy fuelled a steep decline in Abe's popularity previous year but heappeared to ride out the scandal and won a snap lower house election in October. His ratings had rebounded from a slump a year ago, but doubts have revived with a series of fresh revelations.

The revelation could deal a severe blow to Abe, who has said he had nothing to do with the land purchase and that he "would quit as prime minister and a lawmaker" if he or his wife were found to be involved in the deal.


Expect the admission of a cover-up to also put Abe's reelection as leader of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party this September in jeopardy. Losing the party leadership would ruin Abe's chances of becoming Japan's longest-serving premier.

Aso on Monday said he would not resign, but pressure on him to step down is likely to grow - at least to take responsibility for poor oversight of his ministry.

"It is very regrettable", Aso told reporters at the Finance Ministry in Tokyo. The changes included removing the names of Abe, his wife, and finance minister Taro Aso. "We will get to the bottom of this, and I would like Mr. Aso to take the lead", he said, brushing aside demands for Aso's exit.

"I am not thinking about that at all", he said, adding he did not believe the alterations were meant to protect Abe and his wife.


Aso also offered apologies, saying that "some staff at the Financial Bureau" were the perpetrators. He said there was no "smoking gun" showing direct intervention by Abe or his wife.

The backing of Aso, 77, who doubles as deputy premier, is vital to Abe's bid for a third term and a key factor in the stability of his administration.

"The firestorm surrounding the cover-up and the land sale will continue to inhibit the administration's ability to move its agenda through the Diet", said Tobias Harris, vice president at Teneo Intelligence, a global advisory firm.

Sagawa headed the ministry division that submitted the documents before he was tapped as tax agency chief in July, an appointment critics saw as a reward for his efforts to diffuse the issue with his statements to parliament a year ago. Yukio Edano, leader of the constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said the document doctoring by the ministry "shakes the foundation of Japan's democracy".


But the arrest of any officials over the adjustment of the public documents would worsen Aso's position and make it even harder to stay on. "What became clear is that they debased democracy", by lying to parliament, said opposition lawmaker Renho, who uses one name.

Related news:

Share this:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Richard Sherman called Raiders, but McKenzie said no cap room
Mar 13, 2018 - 11:22
On Sunday, the 49ers signed cornerback Richard Sherman , who surprisingly hit the open market when the Seattle Seahawks cut him . Seattle didn't want him, the 49ers needed a cornerback, Aqib Talib didn't want to get traded here , so Sherman was the ideal fit.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top India's farmers call for support after six-day march to Mumbai
Mar 13, 2018 - 11:21
Adivasi cultivators are seeking transfer of lands they have been cultivating and implementation of the Forest Rights Act.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Hesson confident Taylor will be fit for day-night Test against England
Mar 13, 2018 - 11:20
New Zealand's 223 all out at Hagley Oval was easily overhauled by England with seven wickets remaining and 104 balls to spare. For now, the focus will switch to red-ball cricket as New Zealand prepare to face England in a two-match Test series at home .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Education Secretary DeVos gives cringeworthy interview to '60 Minutes'
Mar 13, 2018 - 11:18
She has proposed massive cuts in public education funding, and wants to shift billions to private, parochial and charter schools. But if MI is like the rest of the country, test scores for 12th graders are probably pretty flat.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Watch Meghan Markle, Prince Harry Get Serenaded By Liam Payne
Mar 13, 2018 - 11:16
She also learned what to do if she is kidnapped, subjected to gunfire and intensely interrogated. The world is watching in anticipation of the royal bash, which is set for May 19 at St.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Chelsea need Liverpool's Anger to Save Precarious Position at Barcelona
Mar 12, 2018 - 10:43
An early goal from Willian and an own goal helped Chelsea secure all three points to close in towards the fourth-placed Tottenham. He also played up front against Barca, but was deployed in his more familiar role roaming from the left flank here.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Abhishek Manu Singhvi: Grateful to TMC for support in Rajya Sabha polls
Mar 12, 2018 - 10:41
The Trinamool Congress chief also met senior NCP leader Praful Patel to discuss the formation of a federal front. Mukul Roy, who joined the BJP from the Trinamool a year ago , has already resigned from the Upper House.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Browns reportedly trade former first-round pick Danny Shelton to the Patriots
Mar 11, 2018 - 01:54
Shelton will join Malcom Brown , Lawrence Guy , Adam Butler and Vincent Valentine on the Patriots' defensive tackle depth chart. However, since he was a first-round pick, the Patriots do have the option to pick up a fifth year at an increased price.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Ronaldo the hero for Real
Mar 11, 2018 - 01:52
Real Madrid have closed the gap on second-placed Atletico Madrid with a hard-fought 2-1 win in Saturday's La Liga clash at Eibar . Lucas Vazquez and Karim Benzema replaced Isco and Toni Kroos as Zidane looked to raise the tempo and find a second goal.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top [Teams] Chelsea vs Crystal Palace: Confirmed Line-Ups
Mar 11, 2018 - 01:50
Chelsea will be looking to stay in touch with the Premier League's top four with a win over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. He said: "Normally when you come against a team not having the best of times , that can be a very risky time to play them".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cancels activities in Kenya
Mar 11, 2018 - 01:49
Both Kenyatta and Odinga had said in a joint statement that they agreed to establish a new office staffed by advisers. About 150 people were killed in the aftermath of the election, which Mr Kenyatta won after an opposition boycott.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Waymo to start rolling out self-driving truck fleet in Atlanta
Mar 11, 2018 - 01:48
Autonomous-vehicle technology has been touted as having potential to save fuel, ease congestion, and make transportation safer. Thus far, Waymo seems to have focused mostly on applying its self-driving technology to the ride-hailing market.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Turkish troops will enter Syria's Afrin 'at any moment': President Erdogan
Mar 11, 2018 - 01:48
Euphrates Shield, which began in August in 2016 and ended in March 2017, eliminated terrorists along the Syrian border. Turkey sees the YPG as a "terrorist" group.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top 'You forget quickly how good you are' - Wenger acknowledges Arsenal confidence crisis
Mar 10, 2018 - 01:55
And do not be scared too much of the consequences of a bad result but focus on pragmatic things like defending better, playing quicker.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Charlize Theron's mom is her marijuana supplier
Mar 10, 2018 - 01:53
During the interview, Charlize was joined by her Gringo co-stars David Oyelowo and Joel Edgerton . "But I love her for the fact that she's always 100 percent herself".