Former Japanese official says pressured to accelerate procedures to open new school run by Abe's friend

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-01 19:29:01|Editor: ying
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TOKYO, June 1 (Xinhua) -- A former Japanese vice education minister on Thursday released a statement backing up his previous assertions that senior government advisors had pressurized him to accelerate procedures to open up a new school with close links to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Kihei Maekawa said in the statement that in last August, Isao Kiso, an advisor to the cabinet at the time, visited his office and requested that he accelerate procedures for the opening of a new veterinary school.

Okayama University of Science was handpicked by the government to open the new veterinary medicine school in Ehime Prefecture, one of Japan's national strategic special economic zones, which has far more relaxed regulations to boost growth in the area as part of Abe's overall growth strategy.

Kake Educational Institution, which operates the university and, controversially, is chaired by Abe's close friend, was selected for the project at a meeting held between the central and local governments in the special strategic zone in January.

The local city assembly provided the land to the institution to build the new department for free and in addition they provided a hefty 9.6 billion yen (86.24 million U.S. dollars) as a subsidy for the school's construction costs.

The former vice education minister has offered to give testimony in parliament over the latest scandal.

Abe has brushed aside allegations that he or his office exerted pressure on officials to greenlight and fast-track the new department.

However, speaking at an upper house committee on Tuesday, Abe admitted he had received 140,000 yen (1,260 U.S. dollars) a year in form of salary from Kake Educational Institution, chaired by Abe's close friend Kotato Kake.

The Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party collectively believe Abe may have exerted pressure on behalf of his school operator friend.

Abe, his wife and other senior ministers have recently been embroiled in another unresolved cut-price government land deal with another private school operator in Osaka.