Japan's 6 opposition parties have agreed to return to Diet debate on Friday, ending their boycott over the Finance Ministry's adjustment of official documents on a controversial sale of national land.
Mitsuru Ota, head of the Finance Ministry's Financial Bureau, told a House of Councillors Budget Committee session on March 16, "Although the then Financial Bureau chief (Nobuhisa Sagawa) was primarily answering questions in the Diet, the prime minister and the minister (Taro Aso) also answered questions".
The land ministry informed the Finance Ministry's Financial Bureau of the differences on March 5 and provided it with copies of the documents.
The land in question was sold at a steep discount in 2016 to Moritomo Gakuen, a nationalist private school operator with ties to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie, raising suspicions of favoritism. "If we were ever involved, I would quit both as prime minister and as a legislator".
It emerged that a note attached to one of the documents was removed about three years ago after it was approved in the ministry.
Internal Finance Ministry documents relating to the sale have since been discovered.
Ota added that he believed "the degree of Sagawa's involvement was big".
Sagawa, who took the helm at the National Tax Agency last July, had told the Diet in 2017 that documents recording the transaction with Moritomo Gakuen had all been discarded, and reiterated that there were no procedural issues with the sale.
Investigations carried out by the ministry showed contacts from Akie Abe and several conservative lawmakers over the school plan, but it was not clear whether they violated any law. Senior members of the LDP and the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan confirmed that Sagawa could be summoned to appear in the Diet "if (deemed) necessary", an opposition lawmaker said.