Opposition Parties Want PM Shinzo Abe's Wife To Testify
|PM Abe's Wife, Akie Abe|
Four opposition parties on March 24 agreed to demand that first lady Akie Abe testify as a sworn witness in the Diet to determine who is lying in relation to a questionable deal over state-owned land.
The move comes a day after Yasunori Kagoike, chief of the Osaka-based Moritomo Gakuen educational institution, repeated his claims about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Akie, and the couple again rejected Kagoike’s words as falsehoods.
“There is a total contradiction in what Akie said and what Kagoike said,” Kazunori Yamanoi, Diet Affairs Committee chairman for the main opposition Democratic Party, said. “We are forced to make this request (to have Akie appear before the Diet) in order to clarify the facts.”
Kagoike, testifying as a sworn witness, told the Diet that he sought Akie’s help on a leasing deal for the state-owned land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, that Moritomo Gakuen wanted to buy for a planned elementary school.
Kagoike also repeated that Akie gave him a 1 million yen ($9,000) donation from the prime minister.
The ruling coalition is opposed to calling Akie before the Diet on grounds that both she and her husband have repeatedly denied donating money to Kagoike or being involved in Moritomo Gakuen’s purchase of the land for 14 percent of its appraised value.
In Diet questioning on March 24, the prime minister again denied any involvement by him, his wife or his office in the land deal.
He and other government officials also blasted Kagoike’s claim that Akie gave him the money when they were alone in his office at Moritomo Gakuen.
“It is extremely regrettable that comments were made counter to the facts by laying out a situation involving a conversation in a closed room that makes it impossible to provide counter evidence,” Abe said at the Upper House Budget Committee on March 24.
He also criticized Kagoike for revealing only some of the e-mail exchanges between his wife and Akie to give the impression that the first lady had asked them to keep quiet about the evolving scandal.
The prime minister said he intended to disclose the e-mail exchange between the two women over a two-year period.