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Level-headed Diet discussions needed to clear up suspicions over Kake

The Yomiuri ShimbunAs documents that contradict the explanations made by the government have been found one after another, the inconsistencies have been questioned repeatedly. It is hard to say that the present situation at the Diet is normal. The government should strive to clear away the suspicions and get things under control quickly.

The problems over the Kake Educational Institution have been reignited.

The flare-up has arisen as a document that recorded a meeting between officials, including those of the Ehime prefectural government, and Tadao Yanase, then secretary to the prime minister, in April 2015 was found. The document was drawn up by an official of the Ehime prefectural government and had an entry stating that Yanase told the officials that the new establishment of a veterinary department at a university operated by Kake was “a matter concerning the prime minister.” Yanase made a comment denying such a meeting.

At the House of Representatives Budget Committee session, opposition parties inquired about whether or not such a meeting was held or such a remark was made. Abe spoke of Yanase by saying, “I trust him as his former boss,” but refrained from referring to the document recording the meeting.

Yanase will be called to candidly explain all the facts.

The heart of the matter is whether Abe, a friend of Kotaro Kake, head of the Kake Educational Institution, was unduly involved in the establishment of the department.

At the Budget Committee session, Abe emphasized once again: “There is no problem with the [approval] process. No one received instructions from me.” In the series of administrative procedures — from the designation of Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, as a national strategic special zone all the way to the opening of the veterinary department there — no facts have been found that show the prime minister’s direct involvement in the matter.

As long as the argument at the Diet committee consists, from beginning to end, of fruitless discussion of the details of how things came to this, it cannot be considered productive.

Get rid of lax atmosphere

Also questioned was the appropriateness, from a policy point of view, of the establishment of a veterinary department there.

Shikoku is a region where there had been no university veterinary department, and thus securing civil-service veterinarians has been an issue there for many years. It is important to note the fact that the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s Council for University Chartering and School Juridical Person discussed the establishment of the department there from a specialist point of view and submitted a report recommending that the government approve the establishment.

To the Department of Veterinary Medicine of Okayama University of Science’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, which Kake newly established, applications far exceeded the number of students to be admitted. As the new faculty opened this month, with the first batch of students registered, consideration should be given so they are not affected.

Over the issue concerning the state-owned land sale to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, it was uncovered that an official of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau had asked the school corporation to arrange not to contradict the bureau’s account of events. And regarding the dispatch of Ground Self-Defense Force personnel to Iraq, daily activity logs written during the dispatch have been found one after another — logs that the Defense Ministry had claimed were “nonexistent” when responding to inquiries in the Diet.

It must be said the bureaucratic organizations as a whole utterly lack any sense of the seriousness of the situation, because slipshod management of official documents and replies to legislators’ questions that apparently made light of the Diet have become conspicuous.

There is a mountain of issues on which the Diet must question the government. For example, how should Japan coordinate policies with the United States when the U.S.-North Korea summit over the North Korea issue is slated to be held? Also, is there any way for the Japanese economy not to be affected by trade friction between the United States and China?

Both the ruling and opposition parties need to try to make level-headed interpellations from a broader point of view at the Diet.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 12, 2018) Speech



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