Pressure continues to mount on Moritomo Gakuen chief

by

Staff Writer

Pressure on Yasunori Kagoike, head of scandal-plagued Moritomo Gakuen, in the Diet and in Osaka Prefecture showed no sign of abating Monday even though he withdrew his application to open a new elementary school and indicated last week he would resign.

With questions about why Moritomo Gakuen was able to purchase land from the government at a substantial discount and who in the political world might have helped him with the deal not going away, Kagoike turned down an invitation Monday by the Liberal Democratic Party’s members in the Osaka Prefectural Assembly to give unsworn testimony, saying this isn’t the right time.

It wasn’t clear whether Kagoike will agree to appear at the assembly at a later date.

Also Monday, a lawsuit against Moritomo Gakuen and Kagoike was filed in the Osaka District Court.

Parents of a former child at a Moritomo-run kindergarten are seeking damages of about ¥1.65 million, claiming their child was expelled after they refused to join the Parent Teacher Association because it failed to provide itemized accounts for its expenditures.

Other lawsuits are possible from Osaka parents who enrolled their children in the new elementary school originally scheduled to open April 1 but is now postponed indefinitely, forcing them to find other schools.

In an Upper House committee Monday, Democratic Party member Toshio Ogawa, a former prosecutor, grilled Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on her relationship with Moritomo Gakuen. He revealed she had been listed as a legal representative for Moritomo in documents related to a civil court trial in 2005. Inada denied any involvement.

“My husband and I had a law office and perhaps we had joint power of attorney. But I’ve never represented Moritomo or Kagoike, never been to court for them and have never given them legal consultation,” Inada said.

The ruling and opposition parties in the Diet are expected Tuesday to discuss inviting Kagoike to provide unsworn testimony about what happened, and who was involved in the decision to sell the government-owned land valued at ¥956 million to Moritomo Gakuen for only ¥134 million.

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, who is also the leader of the national Nippon Ishin no Kai party, has said he supports Kagoike testifying.