Japan finance minister Aso's leadership needed for probe into land sale: Suga

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In Japan, a deepening political scandal is putting pressure on Finance Minister Taro Aso after his ministry altered documents tied to a controversial land sale. "Now the U.S. is back to goldilocks at least for now, the tariffs are less severe, and Kim and Trump are to meet", said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based chief economist at AMP.

The controversy has caused the Diet to stall, but Sakakibara said he still wants lawmakers to deliberate on other key issues during the current ordinary session through June, including labor reforms aimed at addressing overworking and exempting certain skilled workers from working-hour regulations.

The prime minister had previously said he would resign if he or his wife were shown to be involved in heavily cutting the price of public land sold to a right-wing school operator in Osaka.

Media have said the alterations were made after February a year ago - when the suspected scandal broke - and that words describing the "special nature" of the deal were excised along with the names of several politicians and that of Akie.

One such reference was to Ms Akie's visit to the school at the heart of the suspected scandal.

A finance ministry official said 14 items had been altered in the documents after February, when the scandal broke, at the instruction of the ministry's finance division to match testimony in Parliament.

How did the Finance Ministry alter the 14 documents in question after news of the scandal broke in February past year?

Opposition parties have called for Aso, who doubles as deputy premier and is key to Abe's re-election hopes, to resign.

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But the alterations do fuel suspicion of a cover-up, which could be more damaging to Abe and Aso than the original land sale itself.

"At the very least, it seems that Mr Aso's chances of surviving as finance minister are diminishing rapidly", wrote Mr Tobias Harris, vice-president of consultancy Teneo Intelligence, in an e-mail. He said there was no "smoking gun" showing direct intervention by Abe or his wife.

Mr Abe acknowledged the new revelations "could undermine trust in the entire government" and added, "I strongly feel responsibility as the head of administration".

Mr Aso said the documents were doctored to be "coherent" with a speech made in parliament by the head of the tax agency Nobuhisa Sagawa, who stepped down on Friday over the scandal.

Some LDP members said politicians should not pass the buck to bureaucrats.

Abe, 63, swept back to power in December 2012 promising to revive the economy and bolster Japan's defence.

The conservative Yomiuri newspaper and public broadcaster NHK both reported declines in support ratings for Abe's Cabinet in polls released Monday. Non-support rose to 42 percent and 80 percent said that the matter had not been handled appropriately.