• Kyodo


Prosecutors in Osaka have decided not to indict Nobuhisa Sagawa, the former head of the National Tax Agency, and other government officials suspected of falsifying 14 government documents related to an alleged cronyism scandal involving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and school operator Moritomo Gakuen, sources said Friday.

Sagawa, also the former head of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau, is suspected of ordering the deletion of dozens of sections from documents related to a shady land deal between the ultranationalist school operator and the Finance Ministry.

Osaka-based prosecutors have conducted a monthslong investigation into the allegations, as the Penal Code bans the falsification of government documents.

But they apparently found that the core parts of the records have not been altered, and that it would be legally difficult to show in court that the documents were “falsified,” the sources said.

The prosecutors have also probed the alleged breach of trust by Sagawa and other ministry officials over an ¥820 million discount offered to Moritomo for the land plot in 2016.

Prosecutors have found that there were no clear government rules for estimating expenses for removing garbage from state land set to be sold. This prompted them to abandon the idea of indicting ministry officials for the suspected breach of trust, the sources said.

The ministry has cited garbage buried at the site as the reason for the 86 percent discount. But in November, the Board of Audit published a report saying that key records had been discarded and that it found no grounds justifying the huge discount.

The sale has drawn particular public attention because Akie Abe, the wife of the prime minister, had a close relationship with Moritomo and once served as an honorary principal for the elementary school that would be built on the land plot in question.

The deleted portions from the documents included all sections mentioning the first lady, deepening suspicion that the ministry offered the discount due to her involvement.

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