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PM Abe condemns document tampering after Moritomo scandal suicide note revealed

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers reporters' questions at his office in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, on March 18, 2020. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters on March 18 that document tampering "should never happen" following the disclosure of a Finance Ministry official's memos and a suicide note in which he wrote he had been ordered by the former head of the ministry's Financial Bureau to alter public records.

The official, Toshio Akagi, had worked at the Finance Ministry's Kinki Local Finance Bureau. He took his own life on March 7, 2018 amid a scandal over the doctoring of public records relating to the heavily discounted sale of state land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, to Osaka-based nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen. There were accusations at the time that the institution was able to get the land at a low price because of ties to Abe's wife Akie.

Reporters questioned Abe at the prime minister's office about the suicide note, which was revealed on March 18. Abe stated, "It's a very tragic incident, and my heart really aches. Once again, I would like to express my condolences."

He added, "Though the facts were comepletly uncovered under Finance Minister (Taro) Aso's direction, the tampering of documents should never happen again, and we will continue to firmly take appropriate action."

(Japanese original by Hironori Takechi, Political News Department)

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