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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 March 14 - 20  > Osaka governor faces fresh public criticism over his role in Moritomo-related scandal
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2018 March 14 - 20 [POLITICS]

Osaka governor faces fresh public criticism over his role in Moritomo-related scandal

March 14, 2018
Amid growing public anger over a scandal concerning the Osaka-based school corporation Moritomo Gakuen’s plan to open an elementary school, fresh attention is directed at the role that the Osaka governor played in the Moritomo’s new school plan.

In June 2016, Moritomo purchased national land in Osaka for a new elementary school at an exceptionally low price. As Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s wife, Akie, had close ties with the then Moritomo Gakuen president, Abe is suspected of pressuring the Finance Ministry to provide the school corporation with a special discount. Opposition party lawmakers have been grilling the government in Diet meetings on this issue.

The Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office is investigating the Finance Ministry’s local bureau in Osaka for criminal breach of trust by unidentified officials. Under this situation, it has come to light that a male local bureau worker committed suicide earlier this month. His boss was in charge of negotiations in the land deal with Moritomo. It has yet to be found if his death is linked to the Moritomo-related scandal. However, reportedly, the bereaved wife suspects that her husband was ordered to conduct unethical and most likely illegal actions.

It is worth noting that Osaka Governor Matsui Ichiro lent a helping hand to Moritomo Gakuen with the elementary school plan, which is the starting point of the scandal. Governor Matsui in April 2012 relaxed prefectural guidelines on establishing a new private elementary school in a way that favors Moritomo. As a result, Osaka’s advisory council on policies for private education in January 2015 submitted to the governor a report stating that it is appropriate to approve Moritomo’s application for permission to open an elementary school. Matsui’s father was a friend of a deceased person who was the Osaka Prefectural Assembly chair and was also a board member of the Moritomo school corporation. The late chairperson helped Matsui Ichiro found an Ishin no Kai group in the prefectural assembly, a supplementary force to the Abe government.

In front of the Osaka government office building on March 12, a rally took place and protestors urged the governor to own up to and face his accountability.

Nakano Masashi, who heads a civil group working for a better Osaka government, pointed out that Moritomo would have been unable to buy the national land at such a huge discount if the governor had not taken measures to have the prefecture’s advisory council give a green light to Moritomo’s plan. Nakano stressed that Governor Matsui should be held responsible for the scandal.

Past related articles:
> Osaka Pref. Assembly rejects setting up of special commission to probe Moritomo scandal [March 26, 2017]
> Several politicians suspected of engaging in Moritomo Gakuen scandal [March 24, 2017]
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