Japan PM Shinzo Abe denies he or wife made donations to principal of scandal-hit school

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) and his wife Akie.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) and his wife Akie.PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated denials on Friday (March 24) that he or his wife had made donations to the head of a Japanese nationalist school at the heart of a political scandal that is chipping away at his support.

School principal Yasunori Kagoike said on Thursday that he had received one million yen (S$ 12,639) in an envelope from Abe's wife Akie on behalf of her husband.

Kagoike's educational group, Moritomo Gakuen, is at the centre of controversy over a land deal in which the school bought property for a fraction of the appraisal price. Officials say the discount reflected cleanup costs.

Abe's wife denied making the donation on her Facebook page late on Thursday, but Japan's largest opposition party has demanded her sworn testimony in parliament.

Akie Abe had been set to become the honorary principal of the school, which was scheduled to open in April with a curriculum based on pre-war patriotism, but she cut her ties after the scandal broke. Moritomo also runs a kindergarten with a similar curriculum.

Abe has said he would resign if evidence is found that he or his wife intervened in the land deal or helped the school get accredited.

When asked about the deal, Kagoike said on Thursday that he believed that "political involvement" contributed to the acquisition of the land.

Abe's support fell 10 points to a still-robust 56 per cent in a Yomiuri newspaper poll published this week.