Japan PM takes blame for loss of trust over scandal

Japanese PM hit with lowest approval rating level over scandal

The opposition cites Abe's assertion in the Diet in February 2017 that he would "resign as both prime minister and as a lawmaker if either my wife or I are found to have been involved in arranging or approving the sale".

He is unlikely to throw his long-time political ally and confidante Finance Minister Taro Aso under the bus after revelations last week that his ministry's Financial Bureau had tampered with 14 documents related to a dubious land deal for nationalist school educator Moritomo Gakuen.

Certain specific groups across Japan staged multiple protests demanding the resignation of Abe for his wife Akie Abe's alleged involvement in a kindergarten scandal.

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Abe on Monday again denied that he or his wife, Akie, were involved with the land sale or document-tampering, and called on the finance ministry to carry out a thorough inquiry and to restore trust.

With the public apparently unconvinced by the prime minister's denials, the results of the latest Kyodo News poll show that 25.4 percent of the respondents think former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, Abe's main political rival, is the person who should be elected as next head of the LDP in September.

"It's clear from the documents that neither I nor my wife played any role", he said of the released papers, which included sections deleted by ministry officials before they were shown to lawmakers previous year. References to the Abes were later removed from documents.

Opposition lawmakers alleged that the tempering, which started soon after Abe stated in parliament in mid-February a year ago that he would step down if any proof of his or his wife's involvement was found, might have been aimed at protecting Abe. He has even vowed to step down as prime minister if the facts proved otherwise.

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Abe had also been accused of giving preferential treatment to a kinder school operator named Kake Gakuen who allegedly opened a veterinary school with the funds meant for the play school. A finance ministry official committed suicide earlier this month, leaving a note saying that he feared being blamed for the scandal, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The documents indicated Mrs Abe had said the deal should go ahead. He has already resigned.

Ministry officials deleted all mentions of Akie Abe from the papers to hide her apparent influence on the negotiations, according to Koike.

"The Abe government's attitude is entirely called into question", Fukuyama said.

As per the Straits Times, Abe said that his superiors had told him to change certain background section of official documents Osaka land sale as they were supposedly too specific.

The opposition bloc went on the offensive, seemingly encouraged by the Cabinet's plummeting public support rates in several opinion polls over the weekend.

The figure is the lowest approval rating for Abe in the poll since his return to power at the end of 2012.

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