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POLITICS

PM Abe begins to distance himself from controversial school

  • February 28, 2017
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 2
  • JMH Summary

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the educational program of Moritomo Gakuen, an incorporated educational institution in Yodogawa Ward, Osaka City, headed by Yasunori Kagoike, “inappropriate” at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Feb. 27. However, when the issue was first taken up in the Diet on Feb. 17, he had said, “I am told that the enthusiasm of the Gakuen’s teachers is admirable.” He has begun to distance himself from the school as its purchase of government-owned land is becoming an issue.

 

What Abe termed to be “inappropriate” was the inclusion of passages such as “Go Prime Minister Abe!” and “The Diet’s passage of the security laws was great” in an oath chanted at a sports event at a kindergarten operated by the Gakuen. He avoided giving his opinion when asked if this oath violates the Fundamental Law on Education’s ban on conducting political activities in schools. He said: “It is up to the Osaka prefectural government (which has jurisdiction over the kindergarten) to decide.”

 

Regarding his relations with Kagoike, while he had given a favorable opinion of Kagoike on Feb. 17, stating, “He is someone who is very supportive of my thinking,” he has since changed his attitude. When asked at the Lower House Budget Committee on Feb. 24 if there had been any inquiries about using his name for the elementary school that the Gakuen will soon be opening, he voiced a negative opinion: “He is a very persistent person who would not back down easily.” Regarding the fact that his name was used to solicit donations, Abe said that Kagoike “acted improperly as an educator,” denying any personal relationship with him.

 

Abe has been criticized by the opposition for “changing his answers repeatedly.” They are poised to grill him in the House of Councillors as well.

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