It was learned that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has kept records showing it was told by the Cabinet Office – which has jurisdiction over National Strategic Special Zones (NSSZ) – that “the highest level in the Kantei” made inquiries for the plan of Kake Educational Institution (based in Okayama City), whose president is a friend of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to open a new faculty of veterinary medicine in an NSSZ, and apparently, this project is in accord with “the Prime Minister’s wishes.”
While the opposition has questioned in the Diet the fact that “the Prime Minister’s friends are enjoying benefits,” Abe responded that “Kake Educational Institution has never consulted me or put any pressure on me,” strongly denying any involvement.
Documents obtained by Asahi Shimbun contain specific dates like “Oct. 4” or names of senior officials of MEXT and the Kantei. “Kake Educational Institution” is also mentioned in some documents.
A MEXT source familiar with Kake’s plan to open a new faculty of veterinary medicine told Asahi that these documents were indeed drafted by MEXT in September and October 2016 and that they were shared among a number of senior MEXT officials.
One document has the title “Instructions from the Cabinet Office Regarding the Creation of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.” It says that “assuming the new faculty will open in April 2018, please calculate and share the shortest possible timetable.” It adds: “We have been told by the highest level in the Kantei.”
Another document entitled “Instructions from the Minister” states at the beginning that MEXT should “confirm what the Cabinet Office thinks.” This document indicates that with regard to Kake’s demand to start the veterinary medicine faculty in April 2018, MEXT Minister Hirokazu Matsuno thought that it would be difficult for the new faculty to start in 2018. He said: “The university may not be able to recruit faculty members, obtain approval for its facilities, or make other necessary preparations in time. Should it not aim for opening in April 2019 instead?”
On the other hand, the document “Cabinet Office’s Response to Minister’s Inquiries” states: “The process of ‘deregulation in the shortest time possible’ after Imabari City is designated a NSSZ is being undertaken. We understand that this is the Prime Minister’s wish.”
In November 2016, soon after these documents were drafted, the government decided at its Council on National Strategic Special Zones to approve the founding of the first new faculty of veterinary medicine in 52 years. Subsequently, the Cabinet Office and MEXT issued a joint notice last January on the creation of a faculty of veterinary medicine for only one university opening in April 2018 as an exception. Since Kake Educational Institution was the only bidder for this national government project, it was granted the project. This project is currently being deliberated at MEXT’s Council for University Chartering and School Juridical Persons.