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Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, who now finds himself embroiled in the widening Moritomo Gakuen scandal, criticized Prime Minster Shinzo Abe on Saturday for failing to properly explain the essence of the dispute.

In remarks that are likely to strain what has been a close relationship between the two men, Matsui also told reporters following a meeting of Nippon Ishin no Kai in Tokyo that Abe should admit there was “a reading between the lines,” at least on the part of Moritomo head Yasunori Kagoike, that his application to open a new elementary school in Osaka would be approved.

“Ironically, I think, the prime minister cannot explain the essence of the problem and it’s he who doesn’t understand. Saying there was no reading between the lines is quibbling too much. Why did everything proceed smoothly — the ‘divine wind’ that Kagoike spoke of in Diet testimony? It should be admitted that it was due to (Kagoike’s) reading between the lines,” Matsui said.

“Reading between the lines of voters’ desires and turning them into reality is the natural job of politicians.”

In his sworn Diet testimony Thursday, Kagoike put much of the blame for the scandal, in which he bought a piece of government-owned land valued at ¥956 million for only ¥134 million after he was told by the prefecture he’d be allowed to open his school under certain conditions, on Matsui, saying the governor pulled the ladder out from under him.

Matsui, however, said it was Kagoike who fell off the ladder by withdrawing his application to open the new elementary school on April 1 after it was discovered Kagoike had submitted three different construction cost estimates to the prefecture, the central government and Kansai airports, which was managing the land in question.

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