March 12, 2018 / 5:25 AM / 9 months ago

References to Japan PM Abe and wife removed: documents

FILE PHOTO - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and his wife Akie at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Some references to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie, were removed from documents related to a controversial sale of state-owned land, according to documents submitted to parliament by the ministry of finance.

One reference was to Akie’s visit to the school at the heart of a suspected cronyism scandal, according to the documents seen by Reuters on Monday.

Abe has repeatedly denied he or his wife did favors for school operator Moritomo Gakuen, which bought the land, and has said he would resign if evidence were found that they had.

The issue last year sharply eroded Abe’s popularity.

Suspicions of a cover-up could slash Abe’s ratings and dash his hopes of a third term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in an election in September.

Reporting by Takaya Yamaguchi; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Michael Perry

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