Thu, May 18, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Official denies Japan PM involved in school scandal

Reuters, TOKYO

Japan’s top government spokesman yesterday denied that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had intervened to help an educational institution run by a friend get permission to set up a veterinary school in a state special economic zone.

Opposition parties have been questioning Abe and other officials for months about the matter.

It is Japan’s second political controversy over a school in recent months. In the other case, an educational group with ties to Abe’s wife got what critics said was a favorable land deal to build a new school.

The Asahi Shimbum yesterday reported that it had obtained documents showing the Japanese Cabinet Office had told the Ministry of Education that the prime minister wanted the new school approved, and that it was of interest at the “highest level” of the prime minister’s office.

“I am aware of the report, but it is not true,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference.

“The prime minister gave no support at all,” he said.

Opposition lawmakers have questioned the process by which the government decided to allow a veterinary department to be set up in the special economic zone in southwestern Japan, since the government has not approved such departments in decades for fear of a glut of veterinarians.

A Kake Educational Institution official could not immediately comment on the media reports, which have also said the city where the new department would be located gave the land for free and that Abe’s wife, Akie, was honorary principal of a kindergarten run by the institution.

The reports said only that the institution had applied to set up a school in the special economic zone, where regulations are relaxed and that its application was under consideration.

Akie Abe was honorary principal of a kindergarten with a nationalist curriculum run by the other educational group, Moritomo Gakuen, before she stepped down amid the controversy.

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