Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says neither he nor his wife made a donation to build a school for an organization embroiled in a controversy over a state-owned land deal.
Abe was answering a question in a Lower House committee on Friday. One day earlier, Moritomo Gakuen President Yasunori Kagoike suggested that Abe had donated one million yen, or about 8,850 dollars, to build an elementary school.
An opposition lawmaker asked Abe if the remark is true.
Abe said it's impossible that he would have made such a big donation to Kagoike as they have no personal relationship. He also said that no donation was made via any third party such as his wife or his office either.
Abe said he asked his wife, just to make sure. He said she told him that there is no record of any donation, such as a receipt, and that she did not make the donation herself.
Abe was asked if his wife continues to exchange emails with Kagoike's wife. He answered that there were email exchanges, but probably not much, even after she resigned as honorary principal of the elementary school.
Abe said he read the emails the Kagoike side said had been exchanged in late February and early March. He indicated it's not a problem if they are made public, with consent of Kagoike's wife.
Abe said the heart of the matter is the sale of state-owned land and approval for the elementary school.
He added the mails don't matter as they have nothing to do with those issues.
Moritomo Gakuen bought state-owned land for the school for far less than its appraised value.
An advisory council recommended to Osaka Prefecture it was proper to grant approval for the school, which was planned to open next month.
Last week, Kagoike withdrew the application after it was revealed that different cost estimates were given for construction contracts submitted to the central government, Osaka Prefecture and another party.