The head of a school operator at the center of cronyism allegations involving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied on Tuesday having met with the prime minister regarding a project to open a school of veterinary medicine in a special deregulation zone.

"I have no memory and there are no records" of such a meeting with Abe, said Kotaro Kake, a longtime friend of the prime minister who heads Kake Gakuen, at his first news conference since the allegations surfaced.

He apologized for what he called a mix-up that saw a school official claim a meeting did take place between the two. Based on information provided by the school's secretary-general, Yoshihito Watanabe, the Ehime Prefectural Government said in a document submitted to the Diet in May that Kake met with Abe to discuss the opening of a veterinary school before it received government approval.