Over 1000 gather to demand Abe's resignation over cronyism scandal

Finance Ministry to admit document changes in Diet

Copies of documents seen by Reuters showed that references to Abe, his wife and Aso were removed from finance ministry records of the sale of state-owned land to a school operator with ties to Abe's wife.

A protester holds placards denouncing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a rally over a suspected cover-up of a cronyism scandal in front of Abe's official residence in Tokyo on Monday night.

"The Cabinet won't resign en masse".

"It is an urgent task to find out the objective (of the alterations) and who authorized them, and tell the public what really happened", Sakakibara said. "Let's put an end to moves that submit politics to private interests".

Fourteen of the original documents were rewritten by the ministry after the scandal came to light early past year, Kyodo reported citing an anonymous insider in Abe's Liberal Democratic Party.

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.

Also removed was a reference to ties by Mr Abe and Mr Aso to a conservative lobby group, Nippon Kaigi.

"What is important now is to make everything clear", Suga said at a news conference.

Although market reaction to the Abe scandal has so far been limited, market players say more signs of trouble for the government will likely dent expectations that he will win his third term as the head of the ruling party and thus prime minister later this year and continue his aggressive stimulus.

The finance ministry admitted on Monday that it had altered official documents surrounding the decision to provide an 85 per cent discount on the appraised value of the land. "What became clear is that they debased democracy", by lying to parliament, said opposition lawmaker Renho, who uses one name.

Opposition politicians have called for Mr Aso to resign.

"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.

Shinzo Abe acknowledged the new revelations "could undermine trust in the entire government" and added: "I deeply apologise to the people", said a report in The Guardian. Finance minister Taro Aso now says bureaucrats altered the documents between February and April a year ago.

Last week, tax agency chief Nobuhisa Sagawa, who formerly oversaw the Finance Ministry bureau dealing with the land sale, resigned from his current post.

"It is inconceivable that the bureaucrats on the spot had such authority [to alter the documents]", media quoted Shigeru Ishiba, an LDP lawmaker who has made no secret of his desire to challenge Mr Abe in the party race, as saying on the weekend.

Abe, 63, swept back to power in December 2012 promising to revive the economy and bolster Japan's defence. Non-support rose to 42 percent and 80 percent said that the matter had not been handled appropriately.

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