Japanese finance bureau charged over Moritomo Gakuen land deal, nationalist school operator sued

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-05 18:03:58|Editor: ying
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TOKYO, April 5 (Xinhua) -- A regional chapter of Japan's Finance Ministry has been accused of breach of trust for allegedly selling a plot of land at a hugely discounted rate to nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen.

According to local media reports, Municipal Assembly member Makoto Kimura from Toyonaka City, Osaka, where the land is located, and local residents, filed the charges against the finance bureau.

The bureau was in charge of negotiating the contentious deal.

The charges, accepted by Osaka prosecutors on Wednesday, claim that the bureau has damaged the state by providing an unfair discount.

Moritomo Gakuen purchased the land in a cut-price deal which saw the operator acquire the 8,770-square-meter piece of land last year for 134 million yen (1.18 million U.S. dollars), which is equivalent to just 14 percent of its actual appraisal price.

The embattled former head of the school operator, Yasunori Kagoike, has also had a criminal complaint filed against him accusing him of illegally receiving government subsidies for building a school on the land in Toyonaka city.

If he is found guilty, Osaka City may move to file a criminal complaint or a lawsuit against Kagoike, who is also being sued for not fully paying construction fees for building the new school at the site.

On Wednesday, Osaka-based Fujiwara Kogyo construction company filed a lawsuit with the Osaka District Court to claim for 400 million yen in overdue payments, with the total amount remaining to be paid standing at more than 1.6 billion yen, according to the firm.

Koichi Fujiwara, the president of Fujiwara Kogyo, told a press conference after filing the lawsuit that he had not heard anything from Moritomo Gakuen and he suspected that his firm would not have been paid even if the school had been opened.

The construction firm has been given approval from the Osaka District Court for the provisional seizure of Moritomo Gakuen's assets, including the land and buildings of the kindergarten it operates, as well as Kagoike private residence in Toyonaka city.

Kagoike, during sworn testimony given in parliament last month, repeated a claim that he was handed 1 million yen by the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a donation.

Akie Abe is known to have had close ties with Moritomo Gakuen and has given a number of speeches at one of its schools.

Kagoike claimed during a recent press conference that he had paid Akie Abe 100,000 yen for a speech she gave.

Akie Abe was set to become the honorary principle at the new school built on the cut-price land in Toyonaka city, although she abruptly stepped down as the scandal quickly widened and intensified.

Opposition parties have been vociferous in calling for increased investigation into allegations levied at government officials connected to Moritomo Gakuen and the shady land deal, and have called for Akie Abe to give testimony in parliament.

Giving false testimony under oath in parliament carries the penalty of perjury. Maximum perjury charges in Japan can include a custodial sentence.

Moritomo Gakuen first made the headlines when a kindergarten it operates was found to have disseminated hate speech deriding Korean and Chinese residents of Japan.

The school operator is known for its nationalist curriculum and has been widely criticized for making kindergarten-aged children memorize the Imperial Rescript on Education.

The rescript, which demands devotion to the Emperor and sacrifice for Japan, was abolished after World War II, but reintroduced 15 years ago by Tsukamoto kindergarten

The walls of the kindergarten are lined by historical pictures of the imperial family, which the students bow to as they pass the corridor.

Video footage from a sports event at the school recently showed young children raising their right hands and shouting: "Go fight, Prime Minister Abe."

The children, also in unison, are captured reciting militaristic slogans at the event.

Instances regarding cases of child abuse at the notorious school are also under investigation. (1 Japanese yen = 0.009 U.S. dollar)