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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 February 19 - 25  > Abe still held responsible to explain fully about ‘Moritomo’ scandal
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2020 February 19 - 25 [POLITICS]

Abe still held responsible to explain fully about ‘Moritomo’ scandal

February 22, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Osaka District Court on February 19 found that the former president of the school corporation “Moritomo Gakuen”, Kagoike Yasunori and his wife, Junko, are guilty of defrauding the national and Osaka prefectural governments to obtain subsidies. This court case is part of a series of scandals centering on Moritomo Gakuen, including an unreasonably large discount in a national land deal given to Moritomo Gakuen and the cover-up and disposal of official documents regarding the sale. The core of the Moritomo issue is the allegation that public property was sold to the private school corporation in a criminally-suspect manner. In addition, there is also the allegation that Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and his wife, Akie, were involved in the land sale to Moritomo Gakuen and thus distorted expected ethical behavior in national politics. This is a matter questioning the essence of democracy in Japan. The responsibility of PM Abe and his wife should be called into question as it was not discussed in the trial.

Regarding Moritomo Gakuen, Akie for a period of time served as the honorary principal of the elementary school that Moritomo planned to set up. Along with another favoritism scandal in which PM Abe allegedly provided a special favor to his close friend, the president of the school corporation “Kake Gakuen”, to help establish a veterinary school, the Moritomo scandal put Abe under scrutiny over his abuse of the power to further his own private interests. This is a huge political problem which can be directly associated with the scandal currently under the spotlight in which PM Abe invited a large number of his supporters to government-hosted cherry blossom-viewing parties and wined and dined them with taxpayers’ money.

It came to light in 2017 that the Finance Ministry sold a piece of national land to Moritomo Gakuen at a price 800 million yen lower than the assessed value, giving rise to the allegation that Kagoike used his close ties with Akie to obtain the huge discount. In response, PM Abe insisted in a Diet meeting on February 17, 2017, “If I or my wife, Akie, are found to have been involved in the national land deal, I will resign as prime minister as well as a Dietmember.”Finance Ministry officials then repeatedly made false statements in Diet meetings and covered up or even discarded related official documents.

Grilled by opposition party lawmakers, the Finance Ministry later admitted making false statements and penalized the officials concerned. Despite this, PM Abe and Finance Minister Aso Taro still hold office. It is necessary to uncover the whole truth about the Moritomo scandal in the Diet and hold Abe responsible for the corruption scandal.

The “Moritomo Gakuen”, “Kake Gakuen”, and the cherry blossom-viewing party scandals have made it clear that Abe has misused his authority in pursuit of personal gain. The need now is to thoroughly investigate the scandals and force Abe away from power.

Past related articles:
> Ex-Moritomo president: PM’s wife knew how the land deal was progressing [March 24, 2018]
> Finance Ministry admits to falsification of official documents regarding state land sale to Moritomo [March 13, 2018]

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