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Wife of gov't official who killed self raps PM Abe over Moritomo doc tampering scandal

A handwritten statement released by the wife of Toshio Akagi, a Kinki Local Finance Bureau official who took his own life in March 2018, is seen in this photo taken in the city of Osaka on March 23, 2020. (Mainichi/Ryo Chatani)

OSAKA -- The wife of a Finance Ministry official who took his own life amid a document tampering scandal over the heavily discounted sale of state land to a nationalist school operator at the center of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cronyism allegations has slammed Abe and his deputy for indicating they have no intention to reinvestigate the scandal.

"These two (Prime Minister Abe and Finance Minister Taro Aso) are in a position to be investigated, and are not in a position to state that they will not conduct a reinvestigation," reads part of a comment the wife released on March 23.

In the statement, the wife of Toshio Akagi, a Kinki Local Finance Bureau official, demanded that an independent panel launch a reinvestigation into the doctoring of official documents regarding the Finance Ministry's murky land deal with Moritomo Gakuen, an Osaka-based school operator that had ties with Abe's wife Akie.

Toshio Akagi took his own life in March 2018 at age 54 after the media broke the news on the tampering of public records relating to the land sale. On March 18 this year, Akagi's wife filed a lawsuit against the government and former National Tax Agency chief Nobuhisa Sagawa for damages, claiming that her husband was forced to falsify documents and consequently developed depression due to distress and overwork. She also released personal notes and a suicide note left behind by her husband, and is demanding that the true cause that drove him to suicide be revealed. Sagawa was helming the Finance Ministry's Financial Bureau at the time of the document alteration.

In her statement released via her attorney on March 23, Akagi's wife maintains that "Prime Minister Abe created the cause for the document tampering to begin by his remark in the Diet on Feb. 17, 2017." This refers to the fact that document doctoring only began after Abe told the Diet that day, "If I or my wife Akie were involved (in the land sale), I would resign as prime minister and a Diet member." Following his remark, any descriptions in the related documents referring to Akie Abe and other dignitaries were removed.

Toshio Akagi is seen in this photo provided by his family.

Following the filing of the lawsuit, both Prime Minister Abe and Finance Minister Aso said that they have no plans to reopen investigations into the document tampering scandal.

Akagi's wife said in her statement, "It's very regrettable, and I'm saddened and trembling with anger.

"I cannot tolerate that the will of my husband has been trampled upon," she wrote, adding, "No matter what they say, I will keep demanding, time and again, that a reinvestigation be carried out."

She also called for Finance Minister Aso, who doubles as deputy prime minister, to pay his respects at her husband's grave and put his hands together to pray for him.

"Even though I told him I wanted him to visit my husband's grave, Minister Aso distorted my words in the Diet," the deceased official's wife said in her statement.

Aso has not paid a condolence visit to the Akagis, citing earlier that it was due to "the bereaved family's intentions." The wife's latest statement, however, denies the credibility of Aso's comment.

At a House of Councillors Budget Committee session on March 23, Aso once again expressed a negative stance toward visiting Akagi's grave. During the same session, both Aso and Abe once again ruled out reopening a probe into the document tampering.

(Japanese original by Shiho Matsumoto and Kosuke Yamamoto, Osaka City News Department)

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