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Japan’s Abe Hurt by Alleged Ties to Scandal-Linked School


FILE - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, wave as the emperor and empress depart for Vietnam, Feb. 28, 2017. Akie Abe denies making a donation to a school at the heart of a political scandal.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated denials Friday that he or his wife made donations to the head of a Japanese nationalist school at the heart of a political scandal that is chipping away at Abe’s support.

School principal Yasunori Kagoike said Thursday he had received 1 million yen ($9,000) in an envelope from Abe’s wife, Akie, on behalf of her husband.

Land deal questioned

Kagoike’s educational group, Moritomo Gakuen, is at the center 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 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 to open in April with a curriculum based on prewar patriotism, but cut her ties after the scandal broke.

Moritomo also runs a kindergarten with a similar curriculum.

Abe vows to resign if implicated

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

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

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

Japan’s benchmark stock index was higher Friday morning after briefly falling to a 1½-month low amid some concerns about the controversy.

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