Today, Japan’s finance ministry is expected to report that documents in a suspicious sale of public land had been doctored, reigniting a major scandal that severely reduced Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s popularity last year.
The case broke when newspapers reported that Moritomo Gauken, a friend of Abe’s wife, purchased a plot of government-owned land for a fraction of its regular cost. Although the prime minister denied any connection to the sale, public opinion of his administration plummeted to below 30% and remained there for months.
Now, Abe’s popularity has fallen again as questions about the validity of documents related to the sale have surfaced. Suspicions of details being left out have already led to the resignation of National Tax Agency chief Nobuhisa Sagawa.
Finance Minister Taro Aso, who is being called on to take responsibility for his ministry’s actions, may very well become the government’s scapegoat in the coming weeks. Expect the admission of a cover-up to also put Abe’s reelection as leader of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party this September in jeopardy.
Delve deeper: Scandal-hit Abe faces falling approval rates
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Taylor provides insight into trade and technology, with a particular focus on North America and the Asia Pacific. He also serves as a copy editor on The Daily Brief.