• Kyodo News


The head of a Kyoto-based kanji promotion body has presented the education ministry with plans on how it will improve its operations following allegations that the organization engaged in improper business practices in the administration of aptitude tests.

Noboru Okubo, director of the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, said Wednesday he will step down from the foundation’s board in his first public appearance since the revelation in January of the problems with his organization.

The 73-year-old Okubo said at a press conference held after submitting the improvement plan that was resigning to demonstrate his “moral responsibility.”

His 45-year-old son, Hiroshi, deputy director of the foundation who attended the same press conference, said he will also step down from the board.

The foundation originally planned to demote the two to rank-and-file board members as a way to improve its operations.

The education ministry, meanwhile, said it will study the adequacy of the plan submitted by the foundation and determine an appropriate response.

“I’m sorry to have caused trouble to many examinees and other related people,” the elder Okubo told reporters.

At an April 10 board meeting, the foundation decided to lower achievement test fees by a maximum of ¥500 and to introduce an external auditing system.

The education ministry searched the head office of the foundation in February following allegations that the kanji body had exceeded the profit limits for a public-interest corporation of its kind.

It had also been revealed that the foundation was involved in questionable business deals with four family companies linked to the Okubos and other board members of the foundation. The foundation also reportedly bought expensive land and buildings in Kyoto.

The foundation said Wednesday it will cease business transactions with two of the firms.

The ministry last month urged the foundation to improve its operations and gave it a set of proposals, including lowering achievement test fees for test-takers and ceasing transactions with the four family firms.

The ministry also called for the foundation to review the setup of its board of directors and council.

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