OSAKA - The managers of a kindergarten in the city of Osaka that handed parents copies of a statement slurring Korean residents of Japan and Chinese people have been questioned on suspicion of spreading hate speech, prefectural officials said Thursday.
The statement, distributed by Tsukamoto Kindergarten in Yodogawa Ward, described Korean residents and Chinese people as those with “wicked ideas,” calling the latter shinajin, a derogatory term for Chinese.
A prefectural official questioned the Principal Yasunori Kagoike and his wife, the deputy principal, on Jan. 12 after local officials were tipped off by one of the parents in December. Kagoike is also the head of Moritomo Gakuen, which runs the kindergarten.
While admitting to distributing the derogatory papers, Kagoike declined to explain his reasons for doing so, citing a pending lawsuit, according to the Osaka Prefectural Government.
The letter, however, is apparently just one of many incidents pointing to the pair’s nationalist and even racist leanings.
A separate pamphlet distributed to parents in December and obtained by Kyodo News read, “The problem is that people who have inherited the spirit (of Koreans) exist in our country with the looks of Japanese people.”
Kagoike is also said to have highlighted “the uniformity of the Japanese race” in a separate letter to the parents.
In February last year, a parent in her 30s received a handwritten letter from the deputy principal that bluntly said, “I don’t discriminate. But in my mind, I hate Koreans and Chinese.”
The woman, who is ethnically Korean but a naturalized Japanese, pulled her child from the school several days later.
Kagoike recently said his kindergarten, which is known for making its pupils memorize the Imperial Rescript on Education — an 1890 edict that was used to promote militaristic education during World War II — is “treating every country equally.”
According to its website, Tsukamoto Kindergarten will teach children to “respect the courtesy of Japanese and foster patriotism.”
In a video taken at the opening of sports day in 2015, a child was shown being forced to recite, “We want China and South Korea, which portray Japan as a villain, to be repentant. We’ll root for Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe.”
Owners of private kindergartens in the prefecture have expressed concern that graduates of Tsukamoto Kindergarten may have problems communicating with non-Japanese as a result of their exposure to the school’s repeated criticisms of South Korea and China during their time at the facility.
“A considerable part of operating costs (of kindergartens) are subsidized by public money,” a man who runs a private kindergarten said. “Though the kindergarten’s uniqueness needs to be maintained as a private entity, they need to be aware that it is providing public education.”
The kindergarten received around ¥40 million in subsidies from the Osaka Prefectural Government in fiscal 2015.
“The kindergarten is open to people from any country, but they must conform to Japanese culture once they become Japanese,” Kagoike said.
Moritomo Gakuen, the educational entity that runs Tsukamoto Kindergarten, has come under public scrutiny for the deal it got in June on a plot of land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, that was owned by the central government.
Moritomo Gakuen bought the 8,770-sq.-meter (0.8-hectare) plot, which was appraised at ¥956 million, for just ¥134 million. The plot is earmarked for a private elementary school slated to open next April, with Prime Minister Abe’s wife, Akie, to be its honorary principal.