Abe School Scandal Set For Major Escalation After Donation Receipt Emerges

Tyler Durden's picture

The crisis that has rocked the previously unshakeable administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not the result of bungled economic policies, party in-fighting or any of the other calamities that have brought down Japanese leaders in the past, which includes Abe's first administration as prime minister. Abe is struggling to shake off a scandal involving a kindergarten.


Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie

 As the SCMP recently reported, just a few weeks ago, Abe was riding high in the polls and making plans to run for an unprecedented third term as head of the dominant Liberal Democratic Party. So when questions first began to be asked about Moritomo Gakuen, a kindergarten operator in Osaka with what was initially described as a conservative curriculum, the prime minister felt confident to declare that he shared many of the philosophies of the school’s president, Yasunori Kagoike.

It would emerge in swift succession last month that the premier’s wife, Akie Abe, had been named honorary principal of a new school being planned by Kagoike; that the school was being built on land purchased from the government by Moritomo Gakuen for a fraction of its estimated value; that Abe’s wife Akie allegedly donated 1 million yen ($8,800) to the foundation in September 2015 on behalf of her husband (they both deny it), and that the operator’s philosophies imposed upon his young pupils were not just conservative, but tended towards far-right pre-war nationalism. 

As the East Asia Forum adds, the scandal surrounding the sale of state-owned land to educational institution Moritomo Gakuen, and the exposure of the ultra-nationalist curricula at its privately run schools, has brought to the fore the uncomfortable questions that have always lurked in the background of Mr Abe’s political career and are now ensnaring his cabinet because of its links to far-right lobby groups. The scandal is significant not only because it has enveloped Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie, but also because of what it says about Abe’s vision for Japan.

Some more details:

Last month it was revealed that Moritomo Gakuen had bought a parcel of land last year in Osaka for construction of its Mizuho-no-kuni Elementary School for 134 million yen (US$1.18 million), about a seventh of its appraised value of 956 million yen (US$8.39 million). The government has attempted to explain away the cost difference being due the need to clean up waste materials on the site. Yet a similar sized neighbouring plot of land was sold for 1.4 billion yen (US$12.3 million) in 2010.

 

For a country where political money scandals are a regular occurrence, this one is fairly small beer. A much bigger issue is what Moritomo Gakuen schools are teaching and how the prime minister and his wife have been tarred with their agenda.

As the details of the scandal emerged, the Osaka Prefecture Education Bureau enquired of the Ministry of Education as to whether Moritomo Gakuen had violated the Basic Education Law which stipulates that all schools, including kindergartens, ‘must not conduct political education or other political activities that support or oppose certain political parties’.

The Prime Minister and Mrs Abe, it transpires, have been deeply involved in promotion of the Moritomo Gakuen enterprise. Mrs Abe was set to be the honorary principal of the school until the land sale scandal came to light. She had publicly expressed support for the school in a message which, on prime ministerial request, has since been removed from its website, ‘stating that it is “wonderful”, “remarkable” and “fosters children to have pride as Japanese and a strong inner self”’.

The adverse impact on Abe's popularity was swift: as Reuters reports support for Abe plunged after questions were raised in parliament about the murky elementary school land deal to which his wife had ties, according to an online poll published on Wednesday. An online survey by Japan's Nikkei business daily found that Abe's support fell to 36.1 percent in a survey conducted from March 4 to 7 from 63.7 percent in the previous week. Additionally, 78 per cent of those polled reckoned that Mrs Abe should not have accepted the appointment as honorary principal at Moritomo Gakuen and 76 per cent agreed that its chair should be summoned before the Diet to explain, a course that the prime minister has so far deflected. 

On one hand, Abe could simply admit his error and apologize: according to EA forum, "Abe might in the end succeed in brushing the scandal off as an error of judgment on his wife’s part. But the vast majority of Japanese are in no doubt about the inappropriateness of their role in the affair."

Many factors, apart from how successful he is in pragmatically scrambling away from his right-wing links to reclaim the centre ground, will determine whether the Osaka kindergarten scandal will knock Mr Abe off his political pedestal for very long. But the affair is a timely reminder of how important the constraints of institutions, the independent application of law and the role of a free press are in protecting against the inclinations of extremism to pervert the good sense of Japanese or any other society.

 Japanese markets have so far shrugged off the news,
mainly because the school scandal is still viewed as a transient factor,
said Hiroaki Hiwada, a strategist at Toyo Securities Co. "Up
to now, there haven't been any scandals in which Abe was the main
actor, so that even though some foreign investors may be using this as a
reason to hold back there are still many expectations for his policies
based on the success of the recent Japan-U.S. leaders' summit," he
added.

* * *

Things got more complex last week when the head of the scandal-tainted school, Yasunori Kagoike, told a delegation of Diet members in Osaka Thursday that he received a donation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to help build an elementary school that promotes a nationalist education. Abe has denied the claim, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Kagoike made the comments to nearly a dozen visiting lawmakers at the site of a Moritomo-run elementary school , which is embroiled in a land scandal that has reached the highest levels of government. He said that while the plan to open the new school in April was called off, the structure was built and the scandal has affected all of the companies involved in its construction.

“We tried to build this school to everyone’s intentions. I’m announcing that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s donation was included,” Kagoike said in remarks picked up by news cameras from the grounds of the Mizuho no Kuni elementary school.

 

During his regular news conference in Tokyo late Thursday afternoon, Suga dismissed the claim. Suga told reporters that when he asked Abe about the matter, the prime minister denied making any donation himself, through his wife Akie or any other third party

 

The Diet delegation, led by Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Ichita Yamamoto, departed for Tokyo without immediately commenting on the matter. Kagoike did not speak to reporters immediately after the visit.

 

Despite the denial, Kagoike’s comment is sure to refocus Diet inquiries into Moritomo back on the prime minister and possibly his wife Akie, who served as honorary principal of the new elementary school before resigning last month. Akie also spoke at the school in September 2015. Kagoike’s claim comes after a sudden visit to Tokyo on Wednesday, where he met with freelance journalist Tamotsu Sugano after canceling an appearance at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

 

On Wednesday night, Sugano told reporters that Kagoike had told him that another politician, a Cabinet member, was involved in the scandal in which Moritomo was able to purchase land from the government valued at ¥946 million for only ¥134 million. Abe has said neither he nor his wife was involved in the land deal.

Yet while ignoring the scandal may have been possible had Abe simply owned up to the revelations, a problem emerged once Abe decided to sternly deny any wrongdoing, and said neither he nor his wife, Akie, was involved in the deal or donating to the scandal-hit school. The PM couple dug themselves even deeper last Thursday, when Abe’s wife Akie also officially denied making any donations, the nation’s top spokesman said. According to Bloomberg, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga made the announcement when speaking to reporters in Tokyo last Thursday.

The prime minister “said he had not made a donation through his wife Akie, through his office or through a third party,” Suga told reporters, adding that he had “absolutely no idea” on what basis Kagoike made his remarks.

Most problematically for Abe, on Satuday Japan's Mainichi Shimbun reported that it has obtained a copy of a post office receipt for a deposit of 1 million yen that scandal-hit Moritomo Gakuen claims to have been donated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife Akie Abe. In other words, should the receipt be authenticated, Mr and Mrs. Abe's version of events collapses as an outright lie.


The post office receipt for a 1 million yen deposit that Moritomo Gakuen made
is seen. The school o
perator claims the transaction was to deposit a donation
made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife Akie

As Mainichi adds, Moritomo Gakuen President Yasunori Kagoike claims that he received the 1 million yen donation from Akie for a new elementary school that the operator planned to open in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture. The receipt copy for the deposit shows Moritomo Gakuen as the depositor handwritten over whiteout tape. When the receipt is held up to the light, the name "Shinzo Abe" can be made out underneath the whiteout. The seal of the post office that handled the payment is stamped over the whited-out portion.

The receipt confirms a previous report that Abe’s wife Akie donated 1 million yen ($8,800) to the foundation in September 2015 on behalf of her husband, according to a Twitter post by Communist Party lawmaker Kotaro Tatsumi. Akie Abe had been scheduled to act as an honorary principal of the school but has since severed links with it.

During an interview with nonfiction author Tamotsu Sugano, Kagoike's daughter said the school operator tried to make the deposit under Prime Minister Abe's name, but was told by the post office that the name of the depositor on the receipt had to match the name on the transaction form kept by the post office. She said the school operator corrected the name using whiteout tape after consulting with its accountant.

While there has been little reporting on this scandal outside of Japan, the fact that it had such a swift adverse impact on Abe's ratings before the couple officially lied could potentially result in an escalation in turmoil, should the scandal refuse to go away especially if the receipt is confirmed, and if the prime minister family is forced to explain to the Japanese public why they though they could get away with a simple lie over the growing scandal.

What happens next?

“Abe’s very unlikely to resign over this issue,” said Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Japan campus in Tokyo. “It’s not illegal to make donations to schools, but the issue really is about whether Abe was involved in the land deal.”

According to the new revelations, not only was Abe supposedly involved, but he lied about said involvement.

The coming days could be key: Yasunori Kagoike, the head of a scandal-hit school operator will testify in parliament on March 23 after the lower house budget committee agreed to summon Kagoike; as a note, private citizens are rarely asked to give testimony in parliament, especially if what they are about to disclose may provide further evidence the prime minister was deliberately lying to avoid a further escalation of the scandal.

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Deathrips's picture

Yank their printer and watch the echoes across the world as governments implode.

 

RIPS

Looney's picture

 

Just like Bill Clinton’s bombing of Yugoslavia distracted us all from Monica, Abe’s confrontation with either North Korea or even China (over the disputed islands) could have the same effect.

Don’ let a crisis go to waste. If there’s no crisis, create one.  ;-)

Looney

Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) Looney Mar 19, 2017 12:34 PM

Honest Abe

hope_talk's picture
hope_talk (not verified) Chris Dakota Mar 19, 2017 5:39 PM

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do... http://bit.ly/2jdTzrM

JamesBond's picture

In Japanese politics, its always about money not sex.  So boring.

 

jb

soulcalibur's picture

Nail guns, nail guns everywhere 

John McCloy's picture

  I guess this is his punishment for buddying up to Trump. 

Chipped ham's picture

This is a scandal??  

Let's call it The Abe Kindergarten Initiative. That has scandal written all over it. 

One Ton Lady's picture

I told him not to go down south to Florida and play golf with small hands. 

blue51's picture

Whispers of Nationalism?? All involved will be slandered , even if it takes forgery.

Takemine2go's picture

In his defense he wasn't snatching kids up to pimp them out for pizza parties and child sacrifice. 

joey stalin's picture

The Japs are seriously into child molestation.  Also, murdering and cutting up foreign prostitutes and not reporting it in the media.

ironmace's picture

A kindergarten? This is stupid.

any_mouse's picture

While I applaud a "conservative curriculum" opposed to Marxist programming.

It's Kindergarten!!

Leave the kids alone.

PS I hope that photo of Mr. and Mrs. Abe was taken at a funeral.

joey stalin's picture

Teaching pre-school kids to hate Chinese and Koreans.

Consuelo's picture

 

 

 

Good 'ole 'Honest Abe'...

TheVoicesInYourHead's picture

A head-sized butthole on shoulders?

IdioTsincracY's picture

pre-war Nationalism?!?!

Here come the loonies, for sure ... just because Japan's pre-war Nationalism

has been great for Japan and the whole world!

Dilluminati's picture

you know what would make America Great Again?

Police and Veterans groups not calling begging for money because our government took care of that!

If it would please the King might you pay these services so they don't call me at home?

 

randombraindead's picture

Those are professional fundraising companies.  They only forward like 10 cents of every dollar they collect.  But, I totally agree.  Like are these schools doing care packages for soldiers with baby wipes and such.  If it's something they need for comfort and existence while deployed that should be a DoD expense.  Plus, plenty of police are lazy and overpaid to begin with.

blue51's picture

I donate to a couple of disabled Vets groups, but my answer to every other call is, Call Halliburton.

Yog Soggoth's picture

A lot of those are fake. This NY sounding Italian guy calls me with what sounded like a noisy household with kids in the background, and says he wants a donation for lodge 15 in a town I used to live in. I said, I was busy and I'd call back. I then called that lodge and they said they were not fundraising at the time. I then told them the guys name and phone #. I said you should probably investigate that. Then the guy had the nerve to call back. I ignored.

small axe's picture

Abe won't be able to get off with a deep bow and a humble "sumimasen" apology this time.

Japanese are sick of this elitest prick telling them about how wonderful the economy is while they watch their standards of living crumble. Approximately 2.2 million Japanese are on some type of welfare now, a figure that would have been inconceivable even 10 years ago. Japan's fabled "lifetime employment" went out the window decades ago, with many if not most people working as temp/contract workers. Young people are as disaffected as in any Western society that has hit an economic deadend. Coupled with Abe's determination to change Japan's Constitution to allow for overseas military adventures, opposition to Abe and his Liberal Democrat party is growing. Finally.  

FoggyWorld's picture

And you left out his far from stellar management of the ongoing Fukushima disaster.

Greenspazm's picture

"Liberal Democratic Party" ? So where are the transgender bathrooms, lesbian CEOs and the gaping-open sluice gates for black Subsaharan asylum seekers?

Rubicon76's picture

I looked up their party philosophy and apparently they are pretty conservative.  I'm guessing the "liberal" part is more in line with classic liberalism.

thx111's picture

This is the sign that US neo-con has lost control over Japan.   If Hillary would have won the election, neo-con could have maintained their control over Japanese MSM.  This sort of scandals around Abe were never reported by Japanese MSM.  Thanks Trump.  I bet he really hate moonie Abe.

mc225's picture

...how are they going to bring down abe over '1 million yen' which is around $10,000?

hooligan2009's picture

shock shock horror horror, the libtardiest libtard family is as corrupt as fly blown meat

wonders will never cease

oncemore's picture

compared to Clinton Global Initiative and CF. he is a clean honest man.

Vageling's picture

Lol! Just look at Akie! She's one cold hearted one. Sorry Abe-san, you're fucked. Japs don't like this stuff.

joey stalin's picture

Dear Japs;  No sex, no kids.  Let the gaijin take over.

The Gun Is Good's picture

If only he were a Clinton. Scandal would roll off him like water off a duck's back.

Hillarys Server's picture

Mrs Abe ... had publicly expressed support for the school ... ‘stating that it “fosters children to have pride as Japanese and a strong inner self”’.

Pride and a strong inner self is bad?

Sometimes I wonder if the wrong side won the war.

joey stalin's picture

Yeah, Jap 'pride', like using US POWs for bayonette practice, or cannibalism.

RayKu's picture

This is stretching for a scandal. The amount of money involved is piddly for a head of state. Not to mention it's for a school. I'd say grasping for straws if there were even a straw to grab.

joey stalin's picture

The money isn't the issue.  The Japs, like Abe, want to revive a stupid ideology that helped them lose ww2.  Even thought the Japs won't admit it, there's also an undercurrent of hatred for the US.  But since the pindick Japs are too chicken to challenge US power and military occupation, they redirect their hostility towards Koreans and Chinese.  They're passive-aggressive, like women.

stubb's picture

We could all use more far-right pre-war militarism in our lives. It's a powerful antidote against the muslim shitheads who are taking over our countries. 

stubb's picture

We could all use more far-right pre-war militarism in our lives. It's a powerful antidote against the muslim shitheads who are taking over our countries. 

joey stalin's picture

The kindergarten teaches hatred of Chinese and Koreans, who refused to accept Jap rule and extermination policies.  Also, that the Japs did nothing wrong in ww2, or ever, for that matter.

FredGSanford.'s picture

They sound a lot like our kindergartens here in America. We also teach our youngsters a bunch of myths and propaganda!