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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 March 28 - April 3  > Koike: Sagawa falls far short of providing answers regarding ‘Moritomo’ scandal
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2018 March 28 - April 3 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Koike: Sagawa falls far short of providing answers regarding ‘Moritomo’ scandal

March 28, 2018

Sagawa Nobuhisa, one of the key figures in the scandal in regard to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s alleged act of favoritism, on March 27 testified in the Diet under oath. After the questioning, Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Koike Akira criticized Sagawa’s responses as insincere and underscored the need to summon more sworn witnesses.

Koike, along with other parliamentarians, asked former Finance Ministry bureaucrat Sagawa questions about the falsification of official documents concerning the scandal, but the witness refused to answer key questions, saying that by doing so, he would run the risk being prosecuted. Sagawa used this excuse 55 times during the questioning.

Koike asked: Did Sagawa use the pre-tampered documents as a basis for replying to inquiries by lawmakers in Diet meetings in February and March 2017?; Why did Sagawa verbally contradict the original documents six times in those Diet meetings?

In response to some of the questions, Sagawa used the same excuse to avoid replying to questions although they carry little risk of facing indictment. When Koike asked Sagawa how he felt when he first noticed that the original documents included the name of Prime Minister Abe’s wife, Akie, Sagawa did not respond by citing the risk of prosecution. Koike angrily said, “Your testimony is utter nonsense and will not be the last one to be held concerning this issue.”

On the other hand, in response to a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker asking if Prime Minister Abe, Akie, or Finance Minister Aso Taro had instructed staff to make the undue changes in the documents, Sagawa said, “No,” without giving any explanation.

Sagawa was the chief of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau in February 2017 when the allegation that the first lady used her influence to help the school corporation Moritomo Gakuen purchase national land at a huge discount was made.

Earlier this month, it came to light that the Finance Ministry altered documents concerning the land deal with Moritomo, which were later submitted to the Diet at the request of opposition party lawmakers. The ministry admitted that unidentified officials deleted from the documents descriptions suggesting Akie’s involvement in the national land sale to Moritomo. Unsurprisingly, this revelation has given rise to another allegation that the prime minister, the finance minister, and their close aides may have ordered the alteration in order to cover up the role that Akie played in the deal in question.

Past related articles:
> Abe’s wife should explain her involvement in ‘Moritomo’ scandal before Diet [March 20, 2018]
> PM Abe's statements to Diet trigger doctoring of 'Moritomo'-related official records [March 14, 2018]
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