Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to attend the Diet’s Budgetary Committee today, in its latest hearing regarding his role in the sale of state-owned land to individuals linked with First Lady Akie Abe.
Today’s hearings are unlikely to resolve the cronyism scandal entirely, with questions remaining about the culpability of the PM, first lady and Abe’s finance ministry. Additionally, if the hit to Abe’s approval ratings from the scandal continues, the long-term stability of his parliamentary majority and premiership will be in peril. Having used his party’s parliamentary majority to initially block and delay the release of documents related to the sale of state land to far-right school operator Moritomo Gakuen, Abe anticipated to avoid any serious criticism from today’s hearings. However, with key aides linked to the deal, the PM and first lady are still likely to be seen as instrumental in the falsification key finance ministry documents.
With today’s hearings likely to result in the release of the long-delayed and classified documents in question, the ramifications of the scandal may reverberate. However, hits to Abe’s approval ratings have historically been short-term and, due to the historic popularity of the LDP, will not see him lose his premiership.
Kai looks at security and political turbulence in the emerging market economies and also serves as a publisher with The Daily Brief.