The Board of Audit of Japan estimates that Moritomo Gakuen received an extra discount of up to about 600 million yen in a shady land deal, a source familiar with the matter told The Tokyo Shimbun on Oct. 25. The board had been investigating the validity of a roughly 800 million yen discount given to the scandal-hit school operator as the cost of removing waste material that had been found in the underground soil at a plot of government-owned land in Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture. The board projects the waste removal cost could have been only 200 million to 400 million yen.
The board will carry out a detailed investigation into the matter and publicly point out the problems with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) within the year.
Moritomo Gakuen signed a contract for a fixed-term lease of national land with MOF’s Kinki Local Finance Bureau in May 2015. But the school operator later offered to buy the land. So the MOF asked the MLIT’s West Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, which had investigated buried objects around the plot, to estimate waste removal costs.
Moritomo Gakuen declared that the waste is buried to a depth of 9.9 meters on the land. The aviation bureau concluded, without further investigating the details, based on previous investigations that the waste is buried in 47% of the entire soil and calculated that approximately 820 million yen is needed to remove the waste. The finance bureau sold the land to Moritomo Gakuen in June 2016 for about 130 million yen, deducting the estimated garbage removal costs from the land’s appraised value of some 950 million yen.
The Board of Audit examined remaining documents and found that the garbage mix rate of 47% was only applicable to 60% to 70% of the spots among the dozens of spots previously excavated by the aviation bureau. In more than 30% of the remaining spots, no garbage was found. But the aviation bureau did not reflect this fact in the garbage mix rate. When the board of audit recalculated, the mix rate turned out to be about 30% and the garbage removal cost was only about 200 million yen. The board also used another calculation method, which yielded a cost of only a little over 400 million yen. (Abridged)