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TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to attend budgetary committee meetings of both chambers of the parliament on Monday, during which he is expected to be further grilled over two cronyism scandals which recaptured public attention recently, local media reported.
Abe has been accused of using his influence to facilitate a government decision to approve the heavily-subsidized opening of a veterinary school at an university run by his friend Kotaro Kake.
A new document revealed earlier this week showed Abe may have known of the project two years earlier than he previously admitted, casting doubt over the credibility of the premier"s previous explanations.
The prime minister previously said that he learned of the project on Jan 20, 2017, when a government economic panel approved the project.
The new document, submitted by the Ehime prefectural government to the Diet, however, showed that Kake told Abe about his intention to provide veterinary education meeting international standards during a meeting on Feb 25, 2015.
Abe and Kake both denied the meeting on Saturday, while lawmakers, including some from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and those of the opposition parties, called for further investigations, including summoning Kake to testify in the parliament.
"There shouldn"t be any problem (for Kake to testify in the parliament)," said Shigeru Ishiba, former secretary-general of the LDP, calling for the government to take measures to clear away any public suspicion over the issue.
Meanwhile, the former head of Moritomo Gakuen, another school operator implicated in a cronyism scandal with Abe, was granted bail this Friday and dared Abe to tell the truth about a shady land deal which has put the school operator under spotlight.
Moritomo Gakuen reportedly bought a 8,770-square-meter piece of land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, for 134 million yen (1.2 million US dollars), equivalent to only 14 percent of its appraisal price.
The land in question had been intended for a new elementary school with Abe"s wife Akie as its honorary principal.
Yasunori Kagoike, former chief of Moritomo Gakuen, gave sworn testimony in both chambers of parliament last year, stating he thought the land deal involved "politicians" intervention."
The Abes, for their part, denied involvement in the land deal on many occasions.
During the press conference held Friday evening, Kagoike said the detention of him and his wife was politically motivated and called upon Abe to "tell the truth fair and square."
The Kagoikes had been in detentions since they were arrested on July 31 last year in Osaka on charges including using fraudulent means to obtain government subsidies.
They were accused of swindling the central and prefectural governments out of subsidies totaling some 170 million yen (1.55 million US dollars) over the past few years.
Due to the resurfacing of the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution scandals recently, the support rate for the Abe cabinet remained relatively low.
A survey released by Kyodo News earlier this month showed that the cabinet"s support rate stood at 38.9 percent, while the disapproval rate was as high as 50.3 percent.