Prime Minister Shinzo Abe once again denied his involvement in the Finance Ministry's doctoring of documents regarding the heavily discounted sale of state-owned land to nationalist private school operator Moritomo Gakuen, during a Diet panel session on the morning of March 14.
"I never ordered any alterations to be made to the documents," Abe said during the House of Councillors Budget Committee's intensive deliberations, ruling out he had a hand in the murky land sale to the Osaka-based school corporation, which had connections to his wife, Akie Abe.
"I'm keenly aware of my responsibility as the head of the executive branch of the government. I would like to offer my deep apology to the public," Abe said during the committee meeting, which many opposition lawmakers refused to attend in protest against the government's insufficient response to the document alteration scandal.
"Looking at the pre-doctored documents, it is clear that neither I nor my wife was involved (in the land deal)," Abe said. "I would like to make it clear that neither I nor my wife, nor even my office, had anything to do with the land transaction."
With regard to the description in the pre-doctored documents that Akie praised the state property in question upon her visit there and wished for the matter to proceed, Abe said, "I confirmed with my wife about it and she said she didn't say anything like that."
During the same session, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso similarly denied giving any instructions to change the documents pertaining to the land sale.
"I would like Mr. Aso to fulfill his responsibility to prevent a recurrence," Prime Minister Abe told the session, suggesting retaining Aso as finance minister despite the document doctoring scandal shaking up the latter's ministry.