Japanese PM, his Wife and Finance Minister Embroiled in Cronyism Scandal

Marie Harrington
March 13, 2018

The prime minister had previously said he would resign if he or his wife were shown to be involved in heavily cutting the price of public land sold to a right-wing school operator in Osaka.

"I take people's criticism sincerely and want Finance Minister (Taro) Aso to be responsible for pushing ahead with an investigation to fully reveal why this kind of incident happened", added Mr Abe.

A protester holds placards denouncing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a rally over a suspected cover-up of a cronyism scandal in front of Abe's official residence in Tokyo on Monday night.

The doubts have also sparked calls for Mr Aso to quit, but the Finance Minister said on Friday he would not step down.

Allegations against Ms Abe, for her involvement with Moritomo Gakuen, an operator of ultraconservative schools that was able to purchase government land in Osaka at a fraction of its value, first emerged early a year ago, but resurfaced after the revelation that official documents related to the sale had been changed. "Now the United States is back to goldilocks at least for now, the tariffs are less severe, and Kim and Trump are to meet", said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based chief economist at AMP.

"What is important now is to make everything clear", Suga said at a news conference.

And he dismissed suggestions that he might resign over the scandal.

Already public anger is growing.

Abe and Aso will try to contain the damage until the furore subsides.

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Suspicions of a cover-up could slash Abe's ratings and dash his hopes of a third term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The 77-year-old Aso apologised for his ministry's actions but said he had no intention to resign.

The response of senior LDP lawmakers such as party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai will be critical to any effort to protect Aso, as well as to containing the fallout for Abe.

Japanese government bonds were steady to slightly weaker on Tuesday though trading was slow as investors anxious whether a scandal engulfing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would grow further to threaten his position and policies.

Some financial market players worry about the impact on " Abenomics" policies of hyper-easy monetary policy, fiscal spending and structural reform.

A bigger concern is that the scandal could kickoff a period of political instability.

Politics also remain in focus after President Donald Trump issued an executive order blocking Broadcom Ltd. from acquiring Qualcomm Inc., scuttling a $117 billion hostile takeover that had been subject of scrutiny over the deal's threat to US national security. However, traders seemed reluctant to continue pushing stocks higher amid a lack of major US economic data on the day.

Abe's warm ties with Trump and his acquaintance with other world leaders has been seen as a diplomatic plus, so a change of leadership could be a blow.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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