The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Nov. 28, 2017:
Moritomo Gakuen, Kake Gakuen issues
Hiroshi Kawauchi (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan [CDPJ]): Do you acknowledge this audio tape?
Director General Mitsuru Ota of Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau: This 45-minute audio tape was recorded (by the Moritomo side) without consent. This was from around mid-May last year.
Kawauchi: Was the estimate of the cost for waste disposal appropriate?
Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii: I think that there were certain aspects that should have been studied with greater care. I would like to make improvements in the appraisal procedures.
Ota: This was the only case (treated as an exception in terms of the lease contract and other matters) between FY12 and FY16. We forgot and failed to draw up a written report on the price appraisal for the government land to be sold. We are terribly sorry.
Kawauchi: If it is shown that your previous responses were inappropriate, will you deal with the matter in good faith?
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: I would like the ministries to carefully check for consistency with previous responses. The concerned ministries will respond to the Board of Audit’s report. I believe that it is necessary to review administrative procedures. The Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will work on this vigorously. Personally, I have said that I trust the Finance Ministry to have sold the land at an appropriate price based on the law. I did not look into the matter myself and say that the price was “appropriate.”
Seiji Osaka (CDPJ): National Tax Agency Director General Nobuhisa Sagawa, who was the director general of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau, stated repeatedly that this matter was handled in a proper manner.
Ota: Various opinions have been voiced. We need to change what needs to be changed based on such opinions.
Masato Imai (Party of Hope): Did the accused, Yasunori Kagoike, propose a price for the land?
Ota: Various exchanges took place in the meetings, including about price.
Yuichi Goto (Party of Hope): The Finance Ministry failed to draw up a price appraisal report. The officials responsible should be penalized.
Finance Minister Taro Aso: In light of the issues raised by the Board of Audit, we will see to it that appraisal reports are drafted without fail. We have no plans to impose penalties at this point.
Goto: What was the reason for not drawing up an appraisal report?
Ota: Unfortunately, the Kinki Financial Bureau is the only one of the regional bureaus that has failed to draw up such reports several times.
Goto: Did Mrs. Akie Abe make a donation of 1 million yen to Moritomo Gakuen?
Abe: That is not true. Kagoike came to my house to return the 1 million yen. He showed a bundle of bills that were supposed to be 1 million yen, but it turned out that 98 of the 10,000-yen bills were blank sheets of paper.
Takashi Shinohara (Independents Club): It is not necessary to open a new veterinary school in Shikoku.
Abe: While Kake Gakuen President Kotaro Kake is an old friend, he has never taken advantage of my position to do anything.
Takeshi Miyamoto (Japanese Communist Party): Did you confirm with Finance Ministry officials about the audio tape reported by some media outlets?
Ota: It is thought this was the recording of exchanges that took place when Kinki Financial Bureau officials visited Moritomo Gakuen between late March and April last year. They asked for more documents to support the estimated cost of removing waste buried underground.
Miyamoto: The shocking conversation was about coordinating their stories on the price.
Ota: Your charge of coordinating stories is off the mark.
Mikio Shimoji (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party]): Will you also listen to the views of the opposition?
Abe: A referendum is a formidable hurdle. We would like to submit motions for constitutional amendments with the approval of as many Diet members as possible in order to obtain the support of as many people as possible.