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Despite ministry claims, copies of Moritomo documents can be provided: prosecutor

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso responds to questions during a press conference in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on March 9, 2018. (Mainichi)

Amid allegations that Finance Ministry documents approving the questionable sale of state land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen have been altered, a senior public prosecutor disclosed to the Mainichi Shimbun that it is possible to provide copies of the original documents submitted to prosecutors -- contradicting ministry claims.

The Finance Ministry on March 8 submitted copies of the approval documents to the Diet. However, these were exactly the same as copies submitted to the legislature last year. A ministry representative explained that the originals were unavailable because they had been "handed over to the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, and these copies are all that is left at the Kinki Local Finance Bureau," which brokered the heavily discounted land deal.

The senior public prosecutor told the Mainichi Shimbun, "The Finance Ministry is saying that the documents can't be released because the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office's investigation is ongoing, but we can provide copies of the documents that were submitted voluntarily."

The Mainichi contacted the senior prosecutor following Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry of Finance Taro Aso's March 9 statements requesting the cooperation of investigative authorities to clarify if the original land deal documents had been altered.

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