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In a revelation likely to rekindle criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, media reports Tuesday suggested that one of his then-executive assistants said in a 2015 meeting that the prime minister was directly behind a bid by an Okayama school chain to win government approval for a new university department in a special deregulation zone.

The daily Asahi Shimbun ran a front-page article featuring a photocopy of a document it said was written by municipal officials from Ehime Prefecture detailing the exchange with Tadao Yanase — Abe’s former secretary — in April 2015. Yanase has repeatedly denied having attended such a meeting.

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