National

Kake official apologizes over 'wrong' Abe info sent to Ehime

JIJI

A senior official of Kake Gakuen (Kake Educational Institution) visited the Ehime Prefectural Government on Thursday to apologize for giving out “wrong” information on a meeting that contradicts the prime minister’s denials in a high-profile favoritism scandal.

“We deeply apologize for causing the prefecture great troubles,” Yoshihito Watanabe told senior Ehime official Makifumi Nishimoto at the prefectural office in Matsuyama, the prefecture’s capital.

Nishimoto said it is deplorable that the Kake group released a statement last week denying an alleged 2015 meeting between its leader Kotaro Kake and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe without prior notice to the Ehime Prefectural Government.

“We take it seriously that wrong information was conveyed to the prefecture,” Nishimoto said. He met Watanabe on behalf of Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura, who is on a business trip to Taiwan.

According to documents produced by the Ehime Prefectural Government, the Kake group told Ehime officials that Abe praised the group’s plan to set up a rare veterinary school in Imabari during a meeting with Kake on Feb. 25, 2015. Such schools require government approval.

Speaking to reporters, Watanabe said, “I guess I made the remark (about Abe’s support), in the hope of bringing the plan into reality.”

He denied making the remark at the instruction of Kake.

In the statement released Saturday, the Kake group claimed to have given “wrong information” to the Ehime and Imabari governments and denied that the meeting took place between its leader and the prime minister.

Abe and Kake are long-term friends. The group opened a veterinary medicine faculty at a university in a special deregulation zone in Imabari in April, the first such university department in the country in over 50 years.

On Thursday, Watanabe also visited Imabari City Hall to apologize.