TOKYO, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday denied that he or his wife Akie was involved in a cut-price sale of state-owned land to a school operator in Osaka Prefecture last year.
Speaking at an Upper House Budget Committee, Abe said that the testimony given a day earlier by Yasunori Kagoike, the head of school operator Moritomo Gakuen, was regrettable and against the truth.
"It's extremely regrettable that Kagoike has made statements that go against the truth by reeling off a bunch of things that cannot be verified, such as the one-million-yen issue and talk of backroom dealings," Abe said.
The testimony provided by Kagoike stating that Akie handed him one million yen (8,900 U.S. dollars) as a donation from the prime minister was false and deeply contradicted facts, Abe said.
Regarding a fax that Kagoike claimed he received after he left a voice message for Akie Abe seeking help to secure the plot to build an elementary school, Abe said that the fax was just a note from his wife's aide about the result of his inquiry.
But Kagoike had claimed that the fax was evidence of the fact that Akie Abe's aide, Saeko Tani, had made inquiries to the Finance Ministry about the land specifically on his behalf.
Abe's office on Thursday admitted that the Finance Ministry had been contacted by Tani on Kagoike's behalf regarding the land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture.
Moritomo Gakuen, known for its imperialistic-style edification and disseminating hate speech about Korean and Chinese residents of Japan, was leasing the land from the government at the time.
"The inquiry was asking what would happen to the land lease institutionally and legally, and there was no request, lobbying or of course any inappropriate press," Abe said Friday.
Abe said he was disappointed that Kagoike, under oath, had not denied that moves had been made via email exchanges between Kagoike's wife Junko and his wife, to silence Kagoike.
A day earlier, Akie Abe also refuted Kagoike's testimony on her Facebook page, although she is known to have visited Moritomo Gakuen's schools on three occasions and Kagoike claimed he gave her 100,000 yen the last time for a speech she made there.
Calls have been rife from the opposition camp for Akie Abe to be summoned to parliament to give testimony along with Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui whom Kagoike has also implicated in the land deal.
Opposition parties believe that along with summoning Akie Abe more investigation into the matter is needed, particularly with regard to whether Akie's aide was involved in the sale of the state-owned land to the operator at just 14 percent of its appraised value.
Providing false testimony in parliament carries a charge of perjury in Japan. (1 Japanese yen = 0.009 U.S. dollar)