Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Agriculture minister Ken Saito on Friday released a document linked to a favoritism scandal involving Kake Educational Institution, which is led by a friend of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
In the paper, Tadao Yanase, then executive secretary to Abe, is quoted as saying that education group’s plan to open a university faculty of animal medicine in a national strategic special zone in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, was a “prime minister-related matter.”
Currently, opposition parties are demanding that Yanase be summoned to the Diet to give sworn testimony on the scandal.
“I’d like to respect [the opposition demand], if this is judged necessary,” Yoshihisa Inoue, secretary general of Komeito, the coalition partner of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, told a news conference.
“If there is an agreement, summoning [Yanase] to the Diet is possible,” Inoue also said.
The ruling camp will officially respond to the request on Monday.
The document, drawn up by the Ehime prefectural government, is about a meeting on April 2, 2015, involving Yanase, officials from the Ehime prefectural and Imabari city governments and others.
Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura expressed readiness on Friday to appear in the Diet to speak on the document issue if there is a request for testimony by prefectural officials. “I will bear the brunt [of questioning] after interviews with relevant [prefectural] personnel,” Nakamura told reporters in Matsuyama.
At a press conference in Tokyo the same day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the Cabinet Office, the education ministry and the health ministry are still investigating whether similar documents exist.
“I’ve received reports that [such documents] have not been found so far [at the government agencies],” he said.
Suga had instructed related government agencies to find a document created by the Ehime prefectural government on a meeting between Yanase and local government officials.
Yanase, currently vice minister for international affairs at the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, told reporters at the prime minister’s office that he “doesn’t know” about the released document.
He also said he sticks to his earlier comment that as far as he can remember, he never met with officials of Ehime Prefecture or Imabari.