- Ng Han Guan-Pool/Getty Images
- Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso has volunteered to forfeit a years’ salary as punishment for a cronyism scandal.
- The name of Aso and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were removed from documents related to the bargain sale of state land to a school tied to Abe’s wife.
- The scandal has plagued Abe for more than a year, causing the prime minister’s popularity to plummet.
- Aso, along with a number of officials will also be forced to take a pay cut.
Japan’s Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso has volunteered to give up a year’s salary in response to a cronyism scandal.
The scandal involves the sale of state-owned land to a school operator that had ties to the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a discount of about one-seventh of its value. In March, an investigation by the finance ministry found documents related to the sale were modified to remove the names of Abe, his wife, and Aso.
“I am voluntarily returning 12 months of my salary as a cabinet minister, as this problem has hurt public confidence in the finance ministry and the administration as a whole,” Aso announced this week.
After the finance ministry’s report was released in March, an employee in the department committed suicide. He left a note saying he feared he would be forced to take the blame for the improperly modified documents.
Aso, who has denied any wrongdoing and has refused to step down, also said the falsification of documents in his ministry is “unacceptable and extremely regrettable.”
Twenty officials will face disciplinary action, some facing pay cuts, as punishment for the scandal. BBC reported that Aso, who is very wealthy, will forgo his $273,000 salary, but according to Bloomberg Aso will only be giving up the ministerial part of his salary which is worth about $15,000.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Aso’s actions show he is “leading from the front.”
The scandal has plagued Abe for over a year causing his popularity ratings to slump to their lowest point since he was elected in 2012. But many Japanese voters would likely stick with Abe, as they see few other political choices.