Photo/IllutrationProceedings stop at the Nov. 6 Lower House Budget Committee after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, yells at an opposition lawmaker. (Hikaru Uchida)

Emotions apparently got the better of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when a long-standing controversy involving one of his close friends resurfaced at a Diet committee on Nov. 6.

Abe has said in the past that he would make careful explanations in connection with the authorization of a new veterinary medicine faculty operated by the Kake Educational Institution.

Abe had been hounded for months when the issue first came up two years ago because the institution is headed by a close friend. The prime minister has consistently denied any undue influence on his part in having the faculty approved.

But when the issue was taken up again at the Lower House Budget Committee, Abe lost his cool.

Opposition lawmaker Masato Imai focused on a document found at the education ministry indicating some involvement in the Kake approval process by Koichi Hagiuda, a close Abe ally, who at the time was serving as deputy chief Cabinet secretary. Hagiuda is now the education minister.

"Did someone at the education ministry write the document?" Imai asked Hagiuda, who denied any involvement.

"I know nothing about the document," Hagiuda said.

However, according to other opposition lawmakers, shortly after Hagiuda's response, Abe pointed at Imai and shouted, "You're the one who wrote the document, aren't you?"

An incensed Imai retorted, "I have never been more insulted."

Abe apologized for speaking out of turn while seated. The normal practice is for those called on by the committee chairman to stand before a microphone in giving their response.

Later, Yasufumi Tanahashi, the Budget Committee chairman, summoned Akihiro Nishimura, a deputy chief Cabinet secretary, and asked that those sitting in the seats reserved for Cabinet ministers to refrain from commenting when it is not their turn to speak.