• Kyodo

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Major publisher Sanseido Co. paid junior high school principals last year for feedback on an English textbook under government screening, despite rules prohibiting outside access, education officials said Friday.

While Sanseido did not urge the 11 principals to adopt the textbook for use in schools in their municipalities next spring, the education ministry issued a written warning to the publisher, saying the act raises doubts about the fairness of the adoption process.

Sanseido invited the 11 principals from 11 prefectures to a Tokyo hotel in August 2014 and paid them ¥50,000 each in “editing fees” while also covering their transportation, hotel and dining expenses, according to the ministry.

Five of the 11 later became involved in adopting textbooks for local schools, although none made open remarks endorsing the Sanseido book during the adoption process, the ministry said.

At a news conference Friday, Sanseido apologized and disclosed that it held such meetings six times between November 2009 and December 2010 and paid the participants. It also said that issues with the meetings were raised within the company but basically ignored.

The ministry is seeking a detailed report because it deems the acts of revealing textbook contents and paying money as “inappropriate.”

“Holding the meetings themselves was wrong,” said Sanseido President Katsuhiko Kitaguchi in apologizing to the ministry. Sanseido said it will compile a report on the matter by the end of the month.

The cases came to light after the ministry was informed in October last year that the company had shown the prospective textbook to outsiders, although Sanseido did not mention making payments when it reported to the ministry the following November.

The details of payments were revealed after the ministry received fresh information in September.

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