>> The future of Japan's leader was thrown under the spotlight on Monday after a fresh revelation from an old scandal. Documents seen by Reuter's show references to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his wife and the finance minister were removed from official documents. It's given traction to a scandal of suspected favoritism that's dogged Abe over the last year.
>> This is a situation that has shaken up the trust of the entire government. And as head I feel responsible. I would like to deeply apologize to all citizens.>> The files were linked to the sale of state owned land at a huge discount to a private school his wife had ties to.
Abe's repeatedly denied doing favors for the school, and has said he'll step down if evidence showed he did. Abe's Finance Minister, Taro Aso, is facing calls to quit. He apologized on behalf of the ministry on Monday, but repeated that he won't step down.>>
Reuters Linda Sieg says his survival is vital to Abe's bid for a third term as Prime Minister.
>> The one thing that will be key is what is the response of heavyweights in Abe's own Liberal Democratic party. They will try, I think, to defend Finance Minister Aso from pressure to resign because his support for Prime Minister Abe is critical to the stability of Abe's government.
But we also need to watch public opinion polls will be key if Abe's support rates starts to plummet. Then we could see the knives come out and people in his own party potentially try to force him out sooner.>> Abe’s popularity already took a nose dive over the issue last year and again in a survey this month.
Suspicions of a cover up could further slash his ratings ahead of a September leadership vote, the success of which would put him on track to become Japan's longest serving Premier.