Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife Akie, who has been implicated in a sweetheart land deal scandal that has dented her husband's approval ratings, broke her silence on Thursday night.
In a Facebook post, she denied giving Mr Yasunori Kagoike, the head of ultra-nationalist educator Moritomo Gakuen, a donation of one million yen (S$12,600) or receiving any speaking fees from him.
Mrs Abe said that she has had "some e-mail contact" with Mr Kagoike's wife, Junko, since last month and has "clearly told her that I do not have any memory of these things".
Mrs Abe, saying that Mr Kagoike's sworn testimony in the Diet was "not factual", also denied having asked her aide to leave the room so she could pass Mr Kagoike an envelope with the donation. She "wouldn't do something like that anyway", she added.
I DIDN'T SAY IT
I remember it being that the response would be a refusal, that we "cannot fulfil your wishes"... I was not involved in the content of this response.
MRS AKIE ABE, on communicating with Mr Kagoike about the plot of land.
Mr Kagoike had also claimed that he sought Mrs Abe's favours to negotiate with the Finance Ministry for an extension to the lease of the plot of land in Osaka, to beyond 10 years.
To this, Mrs Abe said that she "remembers receiving some short messages from Mr Kagoike, but I never heard anything about the specifics of the land contract, such as whether it would be for 10 years or not".
Her secretary, Ms Saeko Tani, had also informed her she would write a reply to Mr Kagoike's inquiry, Mrs Abe said, adding: "I remember it being that the response would be a refusal, that we 'cannot fulfil your wishes'."
She added: "I was not involved in the content of this response."