National / Crime & Legal

Former senior Japanese education ministry official indicted over corruption

Kyodo

A former senior education ministry official was indicted Tuesday on suspicion he accepted a favor from a private university last year in return for helping it secure a government subsidy.

Futoshi Sano, 59, former director-general of the ministry’s science and technology bureau, is accused of helping Tokyo Medical University secure the subsidy in exchange for the admission of his son into the school. Sano has denied the allegation, saying he was not in a position to influence which universities received subsidies, a source close to the matter said.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office also indicted Masahiko Usui, former chairman of the university’s board of regents, and Mamoru Suzuki, its former president, on suspicion they bribed Sano. Koji Taniguchi, former executive of a medical consulting firm, was indicted over complicity in the alleged crime.

Taniguchi, 47, has also denied the allegation, while Usui, 77, and Suzuki, 69, have admitted to their charges, the source said.

According to the indictment, Sano, who at the time headed the ministry’s secretariat in charge of personnel and budgetary matters, was asked by Usui in May 2017 to help the university be selected for a state funding program.

The university offered to ensure that Sano’s son would be admitted in exchange for his help in having the university secure the subsidy through a program called the “private university research branding project.”

The medical university subsequently received a grant of ¥35 million ($314,000) after applying for the aid program for fiscal 2017. The program is aimed at helping universities with prominent research activities.

When the university first applied in fiscal 2016, it failed to secure a subsidy.

“I deeply apologize. We’ll do our best to restore public confidence,” said education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, adding he had directed the ministry to check for any similar cases.

“We take (the indictment) seriously and we are really sorry,” the university said. It plans to disclose the result of its ongoing internal investigation.

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