Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — Mitsuru Ota, director general of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau, admitted Monday that a bureau official asked Moritomo Gakuen last year to lie about the huge discount sale of a state land lot to the school operator.
“Seeking explanations that run counter to the truth was definitely the wrong response to make,” Ota told a House of Councillors committee meeting, giving an apology.
Ota’s remarks came after NHK on Wednesday reported about the bureau’s attempt to ensure the school operator tells the same story as the bureau. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso promised to check the facts.
In June 2016, Moritomo Gakuen acquired the 8,770-square-meter land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, from the central government for ¥134 million, down from the assessed value of ¥956 million. Costs for disposing of waste buried there were cited to justify the huge discount.
According to Ota, the Financial Bureau official made the request on Feb. 20, 2017, to lie about the deal.
The ministry’s explanations to the Diet around that time were that the waste had been appropriately removed by the buyer of the land.
Hoping to make Moritomo’s explanations on the matter consistent with those of the Finance Ministry, the bureau official proposed to the lawyer of the school operator over the phone that Moritomo claim thousands of trucks were used to remove the waste, according to Ota.
The bureau official also asked the ministry’s Kinki Local Finance Bureau in western Japan, which was in charge of negotiations with Moritomo Gakuen on the property deal, to get the school operator to give such explanations about the waste.