Japan PM, finance minister under fire over suspected cronyism scandal


Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Monday he had no intention to resign over revelations that documents related to a state land sale were altered.

The admission that public documents have been tampered with is likely to deal a heavy blow to the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, political watchers said.

"I have received a report that it appears there were changes in documents", Moriyama told reporters.

Questions over the sale of state-owned land at a huge discount, to a school operator with ties to Abe's wife, Akie, have dogged Abe since the matter became public previous year.

The records that were altered pertain to a shady deal reached to sell a plot of state-owned land to Osaka's Moritomo Gakuen, a nationalist school operator in June 2016.

In relation to the unfolding document-tampering scandal, National Tax Agency Commissioner Nobuhisa Sagawa, who was director general of the ministry's Financial Bureau when the documents were submitted to the Diet, stepped down from the top agency post on Friday to take responsibility for causing confusion in the Diet.

Push to arm teachers part of Trump's school plan
Trump has long criticized previous administrations for creating commissions to examine issues. The White House plan would involve funding to provide weapons training for teachers.

Kawhi Leonard could return as early as Tuesday
Leonard, 26, missed the team's first 27 games of the season due to right quadriceps tendinopathy before playing December 13. Leonard said during the week that he would return to action soon, but he did not give a date.

Evolution of mobile phones
Like the flip phone, it was also comprised of two parts but they came together and apart by sliding the parts on a rail. Given the fast pace of growth, the future is bound to hold even many more implications for mobile phone users.

Sagawa headed the ministry division that submitted the documents before he was tapped as tax agency chief in July, an appointment critics saw as a reward for his efforts to diffuse the issue with his statements to parliament a year ago.

"It is possible that Sagawa ordered the alterations", the newspaper said, citing government sources.

"Market participants had been concerned that Aso would resign over the scandal, but such excessive concerns subsided following his comments", an official at a foreign exchange brokerage house said.

Adding to the pressure, a finance ministry official linked to the scandal was found dead on Friday, although it is not clear if the reported suicide is linked to the affair. He said there was no "smoking gun" showing direct intervention by Abe or his wife.

But a poll released published Monday in the Yomiuri Shimbun showed his support dropping by six percentage points from last month to 48 percent, the first reading under 50 percent since he won re-election in October.