Education in Japan (Natalie Collor)
For more than a decade, MEXT has not granted approval for any higher education academic institution’s wish to create a veterinary program with the belief that more programs would create unnecessary competition in the field. Last November, however, Prime Minister Abe approved Kake Gakuen’s request for a veterinary program. Abe, who is publically known to be good friends with the institution’s chairman Kotaro Kake, granted this special permission only to Kake Gakuen and all other institutions were denied their expansion requests.
The documents, including transcripts from the approval meetings, as well as the influence of Prime Minister Abe’s opinion on this matter, hold great weight in this scandal, but MEXT first announced that it could not locate the documents. Soon after this, bureaucrat Kihei Maekawa stated publically that he knew for sure that the documents existed, suggesting that MEXT was hiding something in their inability to produce the documents.
An interesting twist to this scandal involved a Yomiuri Newspaper article outing Kihei Maekawa for going to a risqué bar. For a national newspaper to focus on the personal life of a politician is very rare, and the public may be wondering why such an article was written. Did Yomiuri, a newspaper in support of Prime Minister Abe’s Administration, want to scare off Maekawa and his claims concerning Abe’s statements in the official documents? The public knows so little about the hidden interactions involved in this matter, so the best they can do is speculate.
Upon a second search, MEXT found the documents that Maekawa spoke of. The words of Prime Minister Abe in these transcripts have since been scrutinized by the media and other politicians. Was he overly persuasive in encouraging his inferiors to approve this request for personal gain, or was he so passionate in his speech because he truly believed Kake Gakuen would benefit from the expansion?
While details from this scandal are still being released and the public may never know Abe’s true intentions or motives, there is one alarming implication from this scandal. If the suspicions about Abe’s personal interests in this matter, as well as Yomiuri’s intentional outing of Maekawa are true, Japan would become yet another country whose government leaks private information in order to protect its own interests. Although this is primarily speculation, many Japanese people—even politicians—are in disbelief that such questionable behavior could possibly occur in this country.
- 朝日新聞DIGITAL「加計学園に関するトピックス【動画】加計学園問題と次のおさらいポイント解説」,2017/6/21. http://www.asahi.com/topics/word/%E5%8A%A0%E8%A8%88%E5%AD%A6%E5%9C%92.html?iref=pc_extlink
- the japantimes NEWS「Strange Yomiuri story signals Maekawa being targeted for uthenticating Kake papers」,2017/5/26. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/26/national/politics-diplomacy/strange-yomiuri-story-signals-maekawa-targeted-authenticating-kake-papers/#.WVqe1tMrLVo