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Moritomo Gakuen suspected of padding student numbers to claim special subsidies

JIJI

The Moritomo Gakuen school group may have padded the number of children with special needs at its kindergarten to fraudulently receive subsidies from Osaka Prefecture, informed sources said Wednesday.

The number of such children reported by the group’s Tsukamoto Kindergarten was far above the prefectural average, the sources said.

The kindergarten is suspected of forging medical certificates for children and using the names of these children who do not need special accommodation to claim subsidies, the sources said.

The Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office believes that Yasunori Kagoike, the 64-year-old former chief of the group, played a leading role in the fraud.

The subsidy program annually provides kindergartens about ¥800,000 per student needing special help. In fiscal 2011-2015, Tsukamoto Kindergarten received about ¥70 million under the program, reporting that it has taken care of 90 children with special needs.

Of the total disbursed, the prefectural government recognizes that ¥27.44 million for 35 children was obtained fraudulently.

According to an investigation by the prefectural government, parents of five of the children, for whom the kindergarten received subsidies, said they have not submitted any medical certificates.

The kindergarten may have not taken any measures for children needing special help. No nutritionists were hired to provide support to children with allergies, informed sources said.

Moritomo Gakuen, based in the city of Osaka, has been accused of fraudulently receiving subsidies from the central and prefectural governments. Investigators from the prosecutors’ office this week searched related locations for evidence.

The group recently drew public attention over the revelations that it acquired a state land plot in the prefecture at an unusually large discount to open an elementary school.