Moritomo Gakuen raided for suspected subsidy fraud

The Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office raided school operator Moritomo Gakuen on Monday evening for allegedly receiving unfair subsidies for its kindergarten.

According to an inspection by the Osaka Prefectural Government conducted earlier, Tsukamoto Kindergarten received subsidies for full-time staff from the prefecture, but some of the employees listed as full time actually doubled as staff at a nursery school.

In addition, the Osaka-based kindergarten is believed to have received subsidies for preschool children with special needs but did not provide any special education programs.

The Osaka Prefectural Government determined that from fiscal 2011 to 2016, the kindergarten fraudulently received a total of ¥61.8 million. Last month, it filed with the Osaka prosecutors a criminal complaint against Yasunori Kagoike, the 64-year-old former head of Moritomo Gakuen, on fraud charges.

The prosecutor’s office has also received a criminal complaint accusing Moritomo Gakuen of receiving improper subsidies from the central government in connection with a controversial elementary school construction plan. The operator is suspected of padding construction costs and submitting three different documents on its school construction contract, including to the central and local governments.

It has been about four months since Moritomo Gakuen, known for its nationalist education policy, drew public attention due to revelations that it acquired land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, from the central government at an unusual discount for the construction of an elementary school.

The operator collected donations by naming the elementary school after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while Abe’s wife, Akie, resigned as honorary principal of the school after the scandal came to light. The school project has since been scrapped.

Monday’s raid in the city of Osaka came soon after Abe in Tokyo finished his news conference marking the end of the Diet session on Sunday. During the news conference, Abe pledged to “sincerely fulfill” his duty to explain himself over the recent alleged favoritism scandals, including another one centered on Kake Gakuen — in which Abe allegedly exerted his influence to help open a new veterinary department at a university run by a longtime confidant, Kotaro Kake.

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