Japan's Abe grilled in Diet for 2nd day by opposition parties over influence-peddling scandal

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-25 19:35:31|Editor: Xiang Bo
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TOKYO, July 25 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was grilled for a second day by opposition party lawmakers in parliament on Tuesday over allegations he used his influence to manipulate the selection of a new veterinary department to be opened in a special deregulated zone.

The second day of questioning took place in the House of Councillors as a special ad hoc session aimed at opposition party members further probing the prime minister's alleged knowledge that in exerting his influence to ensure Kake Educational Institution secure permission to open the vet school, he would be helping a personal friend.

Kotaro Kake is a long-time friend of Abe's who runs Kake Educational Institution. The pair were pictured in a lower house session a day earlier in an enlarged photograph holding up glasses of wine together while looking at the camera.

Abe on Tuesday was grilled as to exactly when he learned Kake was submitting an application to open a veterinary school, with Democratic Party President Renho, who goes by her first name, pointing out that the prime minister had contradicted himself in terms of dates, compared to his prior statements.

Abe said that in his position as the chair of the Council on National Strategic Special Zones, he first learned that Kake Educational Institution had been selected when the council signed off on the institution.

"I must apologize for mixing up the date when I first learned Kake was applying and when I learned the city was applying. But what I've said is the truth," the prime minister maintained.

Renho went on to address broader cases of memory loss within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), claiming that sudden cases of amnesia when it comes to accounting for issues that need to be resolved are only adding to the public's mistrust of the LDP.

"People are having doubts because some inside your administration lose their memories and records and keep their mouths shut. If someone outside the administration speaks out, they bash them. And people in the administration constantly rewrite previous statements saying they never said them," Renho was quoted as saying.

The prime minister, amid tumbling public support, has also been grilled over his responsibility for selecting Tomomi Inada as the defense minister.

She is currently embroiled in a scandal involving the alleged cover-up of logs containing the activities of Japanese troops in what was a potentially controversial UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

Abe had been looking at becoming Japan's longest-serving prime minister by winning a third three-year term when his current tenure ends in September 2018.

However, with intensifying wrangling within the LDP's factions caused by the party's woeful election performances and high-profile scandals recently, this goal has become severely blurred, political watches have said.