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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 May 17 - 23  > Suspicion of nepotism surrounding private university operated by Abe’s friend
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2017 May 17 - 23 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Suspicion of nepotism surrounding private university operated by Abe’s friend

May 21, 2017
The question surrounding a plan to open a veterinary medicine department at the Okayama-based private university corporation “Kake Gakuen” operated by Prime Minister Abe’s “bosom friend” has become a focus of discussion. The government, despite curbing the overall number of veterinarians in Japan, as an exception allowed this school corporation to open a veterinary medicine department by using Abe’s “national strategic special economic zones” scheme.

The Imabari City (Ehime Pref.) government applied for approval of the plan to launch a veterinary medicine institute at Okayama University of Science run by “Kake Gakuen” under the national strategic special economic zone program 15 times between 2007 and 2014. Each time, however, the Ministry of Education rejected the application by deeming the plan unsuitable to qualify as a “special zone”.

On January 20 this year, the education authorities unexpectedly gave approval to the establishment of a faculty of veterinary medicine at Kake Gakuen under the “special zone” program. How did such a 180-degree change occur?

Several internal documents Akahata obtained on May 18 show how this came about.

According to the documents, Cabinet Office councilors on September 26 last year in a meeting with chiefs of the Education Ministry conclude: A progress schedule should be produced with an eye to opening a veterinary medicine department in April 2018. This is what a high ranking official of the Prime Minister’s Office expects.

Moreover, the Cabinet Office pressured the Ministry of Education by saying, “There is no ‘cannot option’ and you must do all the clerical work as soon as possible or you may be held responsible for any delay.”

In response to this, Education Minister Matsuno Hirokazu suggested that the opening of school be postponed to April 2019 because of a possible delay in preparations such as securing the necessary number of professors.

The Cabinet Office, however, soon dismissed this suggestion by stating, “In regard to the timing of the establishment of the faculty, we are following the process based on ‘deregulatory reform in the shortest distance’ from the date when the planned site in Imabari City was designated as a ‘special zone’. We have been told that this is the intent of the Prime Minister.”

The documents clearly reveal that the April-2018-opening is the “intent” of PM Abe.

Another major problem the Ministry of Education faced concerned the number of veterinary doctors needed.

The Ministry of Agriculture at that time had determined that Japan already has a sufficient number of veterinarians. Therefore, there was no clear reason for the change in the Ministry of Education’s approval criterion which stipulates that the foundation of a veterinary medicine department will not be permitted as long as there exists an abundance of veterinarians.

However, without proving that the country does not have enough veterinarians, the government council on national strategic special economic zones, which is headed by PM Abe, on November 9 in 2016 decided to make possible the creation of a veterinary medicine faculty.
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