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Diet Testimony by Head of Moritomo Gakuen

post date : 2017.03.31

Asahi: Diet should call Abe’s wife to testify over land sale scandal

Sankei: Doubts remain over sale of government land

Nikkei: More Diet testimonies necessary to uncover truth

Mainichi: In Moritomo Gakuen scandal, testimony necessary from all involved

Yomiuri: Kagoike’s sworn testimony in Diet must be painstakingly scrutinized


Photo: Reuters/AFLO


On March 23, Mr. Yasunori Kagoike, the head of school operator Moritomo Gakuen, was summoned to the Diet to provide testimony regarding the scandal surrounding the sale of government land to the school operator. All five national dailies discussed his testimony in their March 24 editorials, debating the veracity of Kagoike’s testimony.


■ Testimony Must Be Carefully Scrutinized


Indicating its position by stating “It is necessary to scrupulously examine whether his testimony is true,” the Yomiuri commented, “It is not easy to unravel the truth, but the only option left is for both prime minister’s and Kagoike’s sides to make further efforts to sincerely explain at length.” However, when Komeito Upper House member Ms. Toshiko Takeya questioned whether collecting donations for the school by referring it to “Shinzo Abe Memorial Elementary School” without permission from the prime minister was fraud, Kagoike denied the allegation, and according to the paper, “This statement could bring into question the credibility of the series of statements he previously made.”


The key to this scandal is how government land was sold at a significant discount, and the Yomiuri called for the government to “give more detailed explanations of the basis upon which they calculated costs such as those for removing waste buried in the land in question.”


■ Call for More Diet Testimony


The Asahi opened by stating that Kagoike’s testimony at the Diet “raised suspicion on the role that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie, played in the dubious sale of state-owned land to his organization,” and noted critically that this “contradicts Abe’s remarks that have categorically denied his or his wife’s involvement…” In particular, Kagoike stated that a donation of one million yen was made by Akie, which the prime minster has flatly denied, and so the paper argued, “To clear up the facts, it is essential for Akie herself to testify in public.” Regarding the government’s claims that Akie is a “private citizen” and is completely uninvolved with land deals and the like, the Asahi declared, “But there is no doubt that Akie is a public figure and has the responsibility to answer questions raised.”


The Mainichi also argued that Kagoike’s testimony alone would not be enough to reveal the truth, stating that “It is crucial that we hear rebuttals and testimony from others who are tied to the scandal,” and emphasizing, “We want to hear directly from Akie Abe whether the statements made by Kagoike are true. If she is unwilling to hold a press conference, then she should be summoned to speak to the Diet.” Noting how the prime minister told the Diet "If my wife or I are found to have been involved in the approval (of Mizuho-no-kuni Kinen Elementary School) or the land sale, I will step down as prime minister and as a lawmaker," the paper stated that the truth of whether the million-yen donation was made or whether Akie received speaking fees “impinges on the prime minister's credibility.”


The Nikkei stated that Kagoike’s testimony had “deepened suspicions,” and argued, “The Diet must call more people involved in the scandal to give testimony in order to reveal the truth.” The paper was also critical of the ruling party’s reluctance in dealing with the scandal, noting that when it comes to calling Akie to speak to the Diet, members of the ruling party “should be aware that if people believe they are not interested in clearing up these doubts, it will result in increased distrust of politics.”


■ Using Courts to Clear Up Suspicions


Regarding the completely contradictory statements on the one-million-yen donation, the Sankei argued, “The Budget Committee will likely have to confirm the truth directly with Ms. Abe.” The paper was also critical of how the Kinki Local Finance Bureau did not publicly reveal the sale price of the government land that was sold, and how the bureau has no records remaining of the negotiations: “This has made things even more unclear.”


However, the paper was also critical of Kagoike avoiding answering questions about how the school operator had submitted contracts with different costs listed to the Osaka Prefectural Government and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and stated, “The Osakan government is considering filing criminal charges.” On that note, the Sankei argued that “If this is possibly a criminal issue, then these doubts should be thoroughly examined in the courts, without waiting for Kagoike to speak at the Diet.”



*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively.  Those for The Nikkei and The Sankei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.




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