Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his close ally, Finance Minister Taro Aso, faced growing pressure on Monday over a suspected cover-up of a cronyism scandal that has dogged the premier for more than a year.
Copies of documents seen by Reuters showed that references to Abe, his wife and Aso were removed from finance ministry records of the discounted sale of state-owned land to a school operator with ties to Abe's wife, Akie.
Abe, now in his sixth year in office, has denied that he or his wife did favors for the school operator, Moritomo Gakuen, and has said he would resign if evidence was found that they had. Excised references seen by Reuters did not appear to show that Abe or his wife intervened directly in the deal.
Suspicion of a cover-up could slash Abe's ratings and dash his hopes for a third term as leader of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Victory in the LDP September leadership vote would put him on track to become Japan's longest-serving premier. The doubts are also putting pressure on Aso to resign.
Moritomo Gakuen [wikipedia.org] is the school at the center of the scandal.
Previously: Land Deal for Nationalist School Linked to Japanese Prime Minister Abe by Critics [soylentnews.org]
Related: Japan's Liberal Democratic Party Wins Election, Could Revise Pacifist Constitution [soylentnews.org]