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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 March 22 - 28  > Several politicians suspected of engaging in Moritomo Gakuen scandal
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2017 March 22 - 28 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Several politicians suspected of engaging in Moritomo Gakuen scandal

March 24, 2017
President of the scandal-tainted school corporation Kagoike Yasunori testified under oath before the Diet on March 23, revealing in detail the involvement of several politicians as well as Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s wife in a series of fishy deals surrounding his new school.

The politicians he named during his testimony are Azuma Toru (Upper House member of the Nippon-Ishin-no-Kai), Yanagimoto Takuji (Upper House member of the Liberal Democratic Party), Kitagawa Issei (former Upper House member of the LDP), and the late Hata Nariaki (former speaker of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly).

State land deal

He was initially supposed to rent state land in Toyonaka City for ten years. Hoping for an extended land-use right, he asked PM Abe’s wife Akie to mediate the deal.

He said, on November 17 in 2015, he received a response by fax from government official Tani Saeko, an assistant to Mrs. Abe, which stated that the official contacted the Finance Ministry concerning the national property in question and that the Ministry “cannot meet your expectations”. The fax message also stated, “This case has already been relayed to Mrs. Abe.”

In short, Akie is suspected of having acted as “proxy” for Moritomo Gakuen.

Go-ahead given to new school

The Osaka prefectural government had not previously permitted any corporation without experience in running an elementary school to open a new school financed by loans. However, in April 2012, four months after Osaka Governor Matsui Ichiro assumed office, the Osaka government suddenly relaxed this established standard and gave Moritomo Gakuen, which only owned a kindergarten, the go-ahead to open a school using loans. It was only Moritomo Gakuen which applied for the establishment of a school based on the loosened standard.

Kagoike testified, “I asked Hata Nariaki, the speaker of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly at that time, for help from Governor Matsui and the Osaka government. Thanks to his efforts, I was able to meet the then chief of the general affairs department of Osaka, and then I received special favors in my application for the school opening.” Kagoike explained that Hata was a figure who had had close ties to Governor Matsui’s father and gave assistance when Matsui launched a Nippon-Ishin-no-Kai group in the assembly.

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Koike Akira asked the sworn witness, “Have you ever asked any particular politicians for cooperation in deregulating Osaka’s standard for establishing schools?” The witness answered, “Yes, I have. I asked House of Councilors member Azuma Toru (general council chairman of Nippon-Ishin-no-Kai and former Osaka prefectural assemblyman) for help.”

One-million-yen donation from PM Abe via Mrs. Abe

Kagoike also testified that he received a one-million-yen donation from PM Abe’s wife Akie who herself was going to be honorary headmaster of the new school.

According to Kagoike, when they were meeting, she ordered her attending government official to leave and with only two of them in the room, she said to Kagoike, “This is from Abe Shinzo,” and handed him one million yen in an envelope. Kagoike said recalling that moment, “I knew then that everything would go well.”

Kagoike disclosed that his wife and Akie had frequently contacted each other even after the allegations regarding the extremely-low priced sale of state land to his corporation came to light. They emailed each other, and he said, “They got in touch about 22 times in February and 15 or 16 times in March.” He added that his wife received an email from Mrs. Abe asking for silence, which read, “Make sure to avoid arousing any suspicions regarding my involvement.”

Past related articles:
> Man in question to be summoned over his bargain basement purchase of state land [March 17, 2017]
> 4 opposition parties jointly demand summoning of witnesses over Moritomo scandal [March 8, 2017]
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