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Moritomo Gakuen Scandal Shakes the Abe Regime

SNA (Tokyo) — The following stories were reported today by the Shingetsu News Agency.

Moritomo Gakuen Scandal

—First Lady Akie Abe’s name was reportedly specified in the original Finance Ministry documents, but was removed in the forgery.

—Finance Ministry has now admitted to the ruling party that it forged the Moritomo Gakuen documents. This forgery occurred over a year ago, around February 2017.

—The Finance Ministry admits that a total of 14 Moritomo Gakuen documents were forged.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano: “This goes beyond the Abe administration. For more than a year forgeries have been reported to the National Diet. This is a matter which brings into question parliamentary democracy in Japan as a whole.”

—NHK has been talking with the relatives of Toshio Akagi, the Finance Ministry official in the Kansai who committed suicide last week. The relatives are asking for the reasons for Akagi’s suicide to be made clear. Relative says Akagi has been troubled since last August.

—Yet another name was removed from the documents forged by the Finance Ministry… It was the name of a certain Shinzo Abe.

—Finance Minister Taro Aso taking the line that although he’s been Finance Minister for more than five years, the forgery carried out by officials under his command has nothing to do with him. The good news? Aso doesn’t want to sacrifice himself for what is really Abe’s scandal.

—After spending weeks declaring in the Diet that Nobuhisa Sagawa is “the right person in the right job” as head of the National Tax Agency, today Finance Minister Taro Aso throws Sagawa under the bus, saying he was ultimately responsible for the document forgeries.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says Taro Aso has no need to resign, but rather he “should lead the ministry’s thorough investigation” of its own malfeasance. Letting the criminals investigate their own crimes has certainly worked out great so far, right Suga?

—Main victims of the Abe couple’s sponsorship of Moritomo Gakuen’s rightwing education project, or those thrown under the bus to protect the prime minister so far: 1) Yasunori and Junko Kagoike (imprisoned); 2) Toshio Akagi (suicide); 3) Nobuhisa Sagawa (career destroyed).

—Also removed by the Finance Ministry from the forged Moritomo Gakuen documents was the name of their own minister, Taro Aso, as well as references to Nippon Kaigi, the rightwing political organization.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and five other opposition parties jointly renew their demand for Nobuhisa Sagawa and Akie Abe to be called as sworn witnesses to the National Diet. Taro Aso himself has now declared Sagawa responsible for the forgery.

—Finance Minister Taro Aso insists that Moritomo Gakuen document forgery was simply the work of a few bad apples within the bureaucracy, having nothing to do with political leadership nor indicating any kind of systemic problem. Needless to say, trying to entirely blame the bureaucrats for the scandal will have serious blowback. The bureaucrats have their own way of fighting back, which is to leak information to the media and perhaps even to badly prepare documents for Diet examination. Aso is on thin ice.

—Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi says that trust in the administration has been lost through the forgery of documents. He also declares it unacceptable that the authority of the legislature has been treated so lightly in this matter.

—Finance Minister Taro Aso: “Without me this Cabinet would not survive.”

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declares it “impossible” that Finance Ministry bureaucrats acted out of their presumed sense of what the Abe government wanted from them in the Moritomo Gakuen case.

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga insists that the Finance Ministry did not “falsify” Moritomo Gakuen documents, but simply “rewrote” them.

—From a desperate damage control perspective, it’s clear that Abe and Suga needed Taro Aso to resign as Finance Minister today. Their huge problem is that Aso isn’t really their vassal, but rather one of the powerbrokers behind their regime… and he’s not taking one for the team.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he feels pain over the loss of trust that has been caused by the Moritomo Gakuen document forgery. He “deeply apologizes” to the Japanese people.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe echoes Suga in saying there is no need for Taro Aso to resign as Finance Minister. Since Aso refuses to play the fall guy for the prime minister’s mistakes, Abe is stuck with him. He needs the Aso Faction’s support within the Liberal Democratic Party.

—Protesters planning to gather in front of the Prime Minister’s Office this evening, calling for the Cabinet to resign.

—Moritomo Gakuen Scandal protests gathering tonight in Osaka and Sapporo, as well the one in front of the Prime Minister’s Office.

—Opposition parties will continue to boycott Budget Committee hearings in the House of Councillors tomorrow over the Moritomo Gakuen Scandal. They are demanding that Nobuhisa Sagawa and Akie Abe must appear as sworn witnesses.

—Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai says the Moritomo Gakuen forgery scandal has no effect on his thinking at all. He still supports a third term for Shinzo Abe as party leader and will fully back him in the September party elections.

—Hmm… Is it really so difficult to see the linkages?

—Ruling Liberal Democratic Party once again refuses to have First Lady Akie Abe testify in the Diet regarding her role in the Moritomo Gakuen Scandal.

—Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai also declares that the mere fact that the Finance Ministry forged documents and lied to the National Diet for a year is no reason why Taro Aso should resign as Finance Minister.

—Looking over the course of the day’s events, the basic fact is that although this was a day of devastating revelations about the Moritomo Gakuen Scandal, the Abe government and ruling party didn’t retreat an inch. They continue defending indefensible positions on the events.

International

—Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga brags that 9 of 11 incumbent mayors in Okinawa Prefecture do not belong to the anti-base “All-Okinawa” political coalition. He suggests that this means that public opinion in Okinawa is not actually opposed to US military bases.

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