Japan official linked to Abe cronyism row found dead
March 09 2018 11:14 AM
Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has denied any wrongdoing.


A Japanese finance ministry official at the centre of cronyism allegations linked to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been found dead, local media said on Friday.
A second key official will step down over the scandal, local media also reported.
Police are investigating the death of the official in Kobe in western Japan and suspect he committed suicide, with some media reporting a suicide note had been found.
A police spokesman contacted by AFP could not confirm the reports.
The unidentified official, who was found dead on Wednesday, was at the heart of a scandal over the cut-price sale of government-owned land to a close friend of Abe, the reports said.
He was responsible for the 2016 sale of a plot of land in Osaka to the right-wing operator of a kindergarten at a price well below market value, according to local media.
Separately, private broadcaster Nippon TV reported another senior official involved in the scandal, Nobuhisa Sagawa, has decided to step down after lawmakers and taxpayers demanded his resignation.
Sagawa was reportedly promoted to head the tax agency in July, after holding a post overseeing the finance ministry division that negotiated the deal.
The scandal has dogged Abe since it first emerged last February, though the prime minister has denied any wrongdoing and his approval ratings remain solid.
Media reports said the land was sold for around a tenth of its market value, and that the kindergarten had announced plans to name Abe's wife Akie the honorary principal of a primary school being built on the same plot.
Abe says his wife had only "reluctantly" accepted the post of honorary principal and had since "resigned".
Last week, allegations emerged that the finance ministry's documents on the sale had been tampered with before being submitted to parliament.
The allegation has paralysed parliament in recent days, with some opposition lawmakers boycotting debate.
They have accused ministry officials of hiding some key documents and colluding to cover up the scandal.

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