Confronted by the emergence of a new document suggesting his involvement in a favoritism scandal linked to an Okayama-based school operator, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated denials on Wednesday that he intervened in government processes to give special approval to a university project in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture.
The papers, reportedly produced by an Ehime Prefectural official, quoted one of Abe's executive assistants saying at an April 2015 meeting that the special deregulation project was "the Prime Minister's matter." The ex-executive assistant, Tadao Yanase, was also said to have given advice to support Kake Gakuen's bid to open a vet department at one of its universities in Imabari, according to the document.
Yanase has denied the allegations, and during a Lower House Budget Committee session Abe said he believes Yanase, who is now a senior trade ministry official. Abe's former aid claimed Tuesday that he had never held a meeting with Ehime and Imabari officials, contrary to the claim in the document, "as far as my memory goes."