The ongoing scandal involving the private educational corporation Kake Gakuen hinges on whether or not Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indirectly pushed the Cabinet to approve a new veterinary department for Okayama University of Science, a school run by Kake, whose chairman, Kotaro Kake, is a close friend of Abe's. Consequently, various media are investigating the actual need for another veterinary school. No Japanese institute of higher learning has opened one in 52 years, reportedly because, as with convenience stores and dentists, Japan already has too many animal doctors.
In a June 6 article, Tokyo Shimbun said that the "capacity" of the proposed veterinary department, which Kake plans to build in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, is 160 students per year. There are now 16 schools in Japan with veterinary programs that produce a potential maximum of 930 graduates annually. Nihon University in Kanagawa Prefecture produces the most, up to 120 a year, so if the Imabari project goes ahead, it will be the biggest veterinary department in Japan.
Tokyo Shimbun asserts that despite Cabinet approval there is no consensus in the government about the necessity of a new veterinary program. The regional revitalization ministry, which administers special deregulation zones as part of Abe's plan to stimulate local economies, says the school meets all the conditions for reviving Imabari, thus paving the way for the local government to offer Kake a free plot of land for its campus, which wouldn't be completed until next spring. But the agriculture ministry, which is in charge of anything animal-related, says that Japan has enough veterinarians, though there are "regional shortfalls."