Tokyo prosecutors on Wednesday arrested a high-ranking education ministry official on suspicion of accepting a bribe from Tokyo Medical University in exchange for a personal favor.
Futoshi Sano, a 58-year-old director general and former deputy vice minister, allegedly received the bribe in May 2017 from the university, which asked him to be named as a candidate for a ministry project in return for granting his child a place at the university, according to the special squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office.
Although no money was involved, prosecutors determined that the deal in which his child got into the university after receiving extra marks on the entrance exam constituted bribery, investigative sources said.
Sano’s child passed the university’s entrance examination in February, they said.
Since July 2017, Sano has worked as the director general of the Science and Technology Policy Bureau at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
In a news conference later Wednesday, education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said it was deeply regrettable that a ministry official had been arrested. “The education ministry will cooperate fully with the investigative authorities,” he told reporters. He said he will take whatever measures necessary, adding that it will be difficult for Sano to conduct his duties.
Tokyo Medical University issued a statement saying it was being questioned by the prosecutors and that it is fully cooperating with the investigation.
A 47-year-old company executive, identified as Koji Taniguchi of Minato Ward, Tokyo, was also arrested,for allegedly assisting with the bribery.
The news of Sano’s arrest sent a shock wave through the education ministry, with officials all expressing disbelief and disappointment.
“I came to learn of the incident via news reports. I wonder what happened,” said a senior ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Fairness is what counts most when it comes to entrance examinations. He must have been aware of the principle as a senior education ministry bureaucrat.”
Another official said, “I don’t think now is a time when you can manipulate entrance exam scores. The tactic is very old school.”
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