TOKYO, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Prosecutors questioned on Thursday the former chief of the scandal-hit school operator Moritomo Gakuen and his wife over allegedly using fraudulent means to obtain government subsidies.
Yasunori Kagoike, former head of Moritomo Gakuen, told reporters before heading to the prosecutors' office that he "would like to explain the situation as clearly as possible."
Kagoike and Moritomo Gakuen have been under public scrutiny over the past few months for a shady land deal scandal implicating Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe.
Moritomo Gakuen reportedly bought a 8,770-square-meter piece of land last June in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, for a price equivalent to only 14 percent of its appraisal price to open a new elementary school with Akie Abe as its honorary principal.
Kagoike, who has stepped down as head of Moritomo Gakuen since the scandal broke out, gave sworn testimony in both chambers of parliament, stating he thinks the land deal involved "politicians' intervention," while the Abes, for their part, denied involvement in the deal.
According to the complaint filed with the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office in March, Moritomo Gakuen had also unlawfully received state subsidies worth about 56 million yen (502,600 U.S. dollars) by padding costs for the construction of the new elementary school.
Kagoike also faces another criminal complaint filed in May that he swindled the prefectural government out of subsidies totaling some 61.86 million yen over the past six years for Tsukamoto Kindergarten, a nationalist kindergarten in Osaka run by Moritomo Gakuen.
The complaint alleged that Kagoike inflated the number of full-time faculty and staff of the kindergarten and the number of children with disabilities to get subsidies from the local government.
Tsukamoto kindergarten, which has been visited by Abe's wife Akie Abe, has also been exposed for requiring 3- to 5-year-old students to recite in stilted Japanese the pre-war Imperial Rescript on Education that helped fuel Japanese militarism before and during World War II.
Public opinion polls have showed that the majority of Japanese considered the Abe administration not doing enough to clear away suspicions surrounding the scandal.