Sagawa found to have lied repeatedly in Diet

Sagawa found to have lied repeatedly in Diet

It has been revealed that a former senior official of Japan's Finance Ministry made false replies in the Diet dozens of times regarding a scandal involving the sale of state-owned land.

The secretary general of the Upper House revealed this in a committee meeting on Monday.

He said the then-chief of the ministry's Financial Bureau, Nobuhisa Sagawa, had made false statements in the Diet 43 times since February of last year.

Sagawa repeatedly said that documents related to the land deal had been discarded, or that records were not kept.

The ministry last week revealed several hundred pages of negotiation records involving the ministry and school operator Moritomo Gakuen in Osaka, western Japan.

The school operator bought the plot of state-owned land at a heavily discounted price to open an elementary school. The controversial land sale is at the center of a favoritism scandal involving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

One of the records written in March of 2014 reads that an official of the ministry's local bureau in Osaka was told that the new school was to be named after Abe. Sagawa denied last year that the local bureau knew about this.

He also repeatedly denied that ministry officials negotiated the price of land in advance with the then-head of the school operator, Yasunori Kagoike.

But the records on May 18th, 2016, quote Kagoike as saying that he wanted the price knocked down to as close to zero yen as possible. The following day, a ministry official replied to Kagoike, asking him to confirm the price it will offer before he makes a judgment.

During Monday's committee meeting, the current chief of the Financial Bureau, Mitsuru Ota, apologized on behalf of his predecessor.

Ota explained that Sagawa made the false claims after ministry officials had tampered with related documents.

He added that the ministry will report on who had ordered the falsifying of the documents after it concludes its probe into the scandal.