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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 May 9 - 15  > Yanase unwittingly highlights Abe’s involvement in ‘Kake’ scandal
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2018 May 9 - 15 [POLITICS]
editorial 

Yanase unwittingly highlights Abe’s involvement in ‘Kake’ scandal

May 11, 2018
Akahata editorial

Yanase Tadao’s best efforts failed to conceal Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s involvement. This was the impression given by a statement made by Yanase Tadao, former Executive Secretary to PM Abe. Yanase on May 10 gave unsworn testimony in the Diet over a scandal regarding the opening of a veterinary school by the “Kake Gakuen” school corporation. Until the summoning, Yanase repeated that he did not remember having meetings with officials of the Ehime prefectural and Imabari city governments. In his Diet testimony, he admitted to holding several meetings with “Kake Gakuen” officials at the Prime Minister’s Office. He also dug up the memory in which he had some exposure to Kake representatives through PM Abe. He, however, denied describing the opening of a veterinary school as “a matter concerning PM Abe”, while confessing that he explained that to build a veterinary school by using the national special strategic deregulation zone program corresponds with PM Abe’s policy. Abe’s responsibility as the prime minister is now seriously being called into question.

Special treatment for Kake Gakuen as fixed policy

At the same time that Kake Gakuen, whose president Kake Kotaro is a long-standing friend of PM Abe, planned to launch a veterinary department in its university, PM Abe promoted a plan to establish special deregulation zones across Japan. With the designation of Imabari City as a special strategic zone, the Kake Gakuen plan was approved and a new department was opened in April. Regarding the approval, the existence of documents which indicate that the Cabinet Office exerted pressure on the Education Ministry by using the phrase “Prime Minister’s intent” was revealed. Since the revelation, government officials near PM Abe at the time of the approval process, such as Yanase, a special advisor to the Cabinet, along with another special advisor to PM Abe, have been criticized for biasing government policies.

Some media last year reported that Yanase met with officials of Ehime Prefecture, Imabari City, and Kake Gakuen in April 2015 before the city was awarded the special zone designation. In April this year the Ehime Prefectural government released a record of meetings with Yanase which verified the media report. Yanase, however, refused to accept the media report and said, “To the best of my knowledge, I didn’t meet with prefectural and city government officials.” However, cornered by the public demand for a Diet summon to testify, Yanase finally appeared in the Diet as an unsworn witness.

Yanase admitted that he met with Kake Gakuen officials at the Prime Minister’s Office in 2015 three times in total: sometime between February and March, April, and June. He said, “I will meet visitors if they have an appointment with me” and “I don’t remember meeting with prefectural and city government officials.” Yanase also noted that he was acquainted with Kake Kotaro and other Kake Gakuen officials as he met them at Abe’s villa in May 2013.

A prime minister’s secretary is often regarded as a proxy for the prime minister. Such a government official would not have meetings with visitors carelessly in the PM’s Office. It is unlikely that Yanase saw Kake Gakuen officials just because they are his acquaintances and had appointments with him. The fact that Yanase talked with them as many as three times in the PM’s Office shows that Kake Gakuen was given special treatment. Yanase explained that concerning the three meetings, he did not receive any instructions from Abe or make any reports to him, but this assertion is far from persuasive.

As Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Miyamoto Takeshi in the Diet hearing noted, the third of the three meetings with Kake Gakuen was held in June 2015 when Imabari City decided to apply for the national strategic special economic zone program. Given that Yanase was informed of Kake Gakuen’s ambition to open a veterinary school in the first meeting held between February and March and that he gave advice to use the special zone program in the second meeting in April, it is clear that Kake Gakuen held the third meeting to let Yanase know about the application for the special zone program. Furthermore, it is not Kake Gakuen but the Imabari City government that applied for the special zone program. Despite this, Yanase was informed of the application by Kake Gakuen. This is yet more evidence indicating that Kake Gakuen is the key player in the issue from beginning to end.

Abe’s explanation losing ground

PM Abe has kept saying that he has never been asked by Kake Kotaro to help with the new veterinary school plan and that Abe first knew of the plan in January 2017 just before Kake Gakuen was officially approved to open a veterinary school in Imabari. As JCP member of the House of Councilors Tamura Tomoko in her question to Yanase pointed out, it is unthinkable that Yanase told Abe nothing about the three meetings with Kake Gakuen officials as Yanase admitted that Abe aimed to realize a new veterinary school under the national strategic economic zone scheme.

The urgent need now is to have Yanase and other persons concerned testify in the Diet as sworn witnesses in order to reveal the whole picture of the scandal which has distorted politics.

Past related articles:
> Cabinet Office via e-mail informed Education Ministry of schedule of meetings with 'Kake Gakuen' [ April 21, 2018]
> Notes taken by Ehime Pref. official: Kake Gakuen new faculty is matter of interest to Prime Minister [ April 11, 2018]
> Abe’s aide repeatedly claims ‘I don’t remember’ over Kake Gakuen scandal [ July 25, 2017]
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