Photo/IllutrationMoritomo Gakuen planned to open this elementary school in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition Democratic Party agreed on March 7 to have the Finance Ministry submit copies of official documents related to a dubious deal for state-owned land.

Lawmakers are seeking documents, approved by the ministry, that authorized the sale--at a steep discount--of state-owned land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, to school operator Moritomo Gakuen.

Finance Ministry officials had said the documents were submitted to prosecutors, but they now say copies remained in the ministry.

Moritomo Gakuen had planned to build a private elementary school on the site. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie, had assumed the post of honorary principal of the school.

Masakazu Sekiguchi, chairman of the LDP’s Upper House Diet affairs committee, and his Democratic Party counterpart, Masayoshi Nataniya, agreed that the ministry will submit the copies of the documents to a directors’ meeting of the Upper House Budget Committee on the morning of March 8.

Finance Ministry documents that authorized the land transaction were earlier submitted to Diet members scrutinizing the land deal. But The Asahi Shimbun reported earlier this month that those documents appeared to have been altered from the originals.

The Finance Ministry was asked about the contents and location of the original files to clear up the allegations of doctoring.

But at the directors’ meeting held on March 6, a senior ministry official gave vague answers about whether documents even existed in the ministry.

He also said he could not comment on the original documents because the Osaka District Public Prosecutors’ Office was looking at the files.

Angered by the ministry’s stance, opposition parties refused to discuss the schedule for Diet deliberations on and after March 7.

To break the standstill, the LDP and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, on March 7 demanded that the government conduct an investigation into the ministry’s documents and question its officials on whether the ministry really does not have these files in its possession.

The two parties also demanded the government report the results of the investigation, including replies by officials, to the Diet by March 8.