Published: Mon, March 19, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Most Japanese think PM Abe bears responsibility for scandal: polls

Most Japanese think PM Abe bears responsibility for scandal: polls

He said the government wants to closely coordinate with the U.S. for the summit, aiming at comprehensive settlements to pending issues, including the abductions of Japanese citizens by the North.

A "yellow light" is blinking on Abe's third term, the conservative Sankei newspaper, known for its support of Abe's policies, said on its front page Monday.

Facing a grilling in a parliamentary hearing on Monday, Abe denied any involvement in the land deal or the adjustment of the documents.

"If you look at the documents before the alterations, it is clear there is no evidence that I or my wife was involved in the sale of the national land or approval of the school".

But the ruling coalition only said it could not make a decision until its senior executives meet Tuesday morning, stalling the day's talks, according to Democratic Party lawmaker Takanori Kawai.

"I had no way to tell the Finance Ministry to alter it, because I did not even know there was such document", Abe said.

He also noted that it was "natural" that the public was sceptical, given that his wife was to take on a leadership role at the school.

Aso has repeatedly refused to resign and has said the responsibility for the land sale lay with Nobuhisa Sagawa, who stepped down as tax chief ten days ago.

There is already talk that papers related to another cronyism scandal past year might have been altered.

Japan's embattled prime minister hit back on Monday at critics over a favouritism and cover-up scandal that has seen his popularity plunge and loosened his iron grip on power.

Mr Abe has been accused of giving preferential treatment to Kake Gakuen, a school operator run by his close friend, to open a veterinary school.

The unravelling debacle - coupled with the plummeting support - may well jeopardise Mr Abe's chances at an upcoming LDP presidential election this autumn.

Opposition lawmakers also pounced on the LDP on Monday for reports over the weekend that an anonymous LDP politician had pressured an education board in Nagoya for details on a lecture by the whistle-blower of the Kake Gakuen scandal.

The Kyodo poll found former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba was the most popular candidate to become party leader in September, with 25.4 percent of respondents picking him.

"She is the wife of the prime minister, someone that ministry officials need to give more consideration to than the average Diet member", Koike said during the Upper House session.

Both men have been critical of Mr Abe's handling of the current crisis.

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