OSAKA – Moritomo Gakuen will now lose its nursery school license because it can’t secure enough qualified child care specialists to staff its Osaka city-based nursery school, Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said Friday.
“After an order to suspend operations is issued, the city will move forward with procedures to cancel permission for the school’s operation,” Yoshimura told reporters Friday evening.
The latest blow to the scandal-plagued private school operator based in Osaka came the same day the Cabinet Secretariat confirmed that civil servants who accompanied Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie, on two visits to a separate Moritomo-run kindergarten in 2014 and 2015 did not file official travel documents for the trips.
The trips were judged to be private, after-hours activities on the part of the officials, but the government said back in March that it had covered the costs of those who accompanied Akie on her visits to the kindergarten, where she had served as honorary principal. She resigned the post earlier this year after it was revealed Moritomo received a suspiciously large discount on a piece of government land it had purchased to build a new elementary school.
During her visits, Akie praised the school, which made its students to recite the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education, which called on the people to sacrifice their lives if the State faced a crisis and to guard the Emperor. The rescript is seen internationally and among many in Japan as a method that Japan’s military government and right-wing leaders used to justify emperor worship before the war.
Thursday’s confirmation that civil servants did not receive official travel expenses is likely to rekindle debate, especially in the Diet, on what kind of political activities civil servants should be officially compensated for when assigned to a prime minister’s spouse.
In Osaka, after it was revealed in February that Moritomo Gakuen had been able to buy from a government-run entity a ¥956 million piece of property in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, for only ¥140 million, and that former Moritomo head Yasunori Kagoike had submitted different construction estimates to the central government, the Osaka Prefectural Government and Kansai Airports, a regional airport operating company that owned the site, an investigation was opened into the nursery school in Osaka’s Yodogawa Ward that Moritomo was licensed to operate.
The investigation was originally opened after questions arose as to just how much time Yasunori’s wife, Junko, who was supposed to be running the school full time, was actually spending on the job.
But the city discovered in March there were an insufficient number of licensed child care specialists at the school, and ordered her to make changes and ensure appropriate staffing levels. However, it was confirmed earlier this week that the school remains understaffed, and Yoshimura said the city would likely order it closed.
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