TOKYO (TR) – Japan’s prime minister on Saturday denied involvement over public land in Osaka that was sold far below market value to an educational body affiliated with nationalist group Nippon Kaigi, and said he would resign if proven to be true.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the Budget Committee of the lower house of the Diet on Friday, “I clearly state that I will definitely quit as prime minister and a member of the Diet if me or my wife were to have been involved” in the land sale by the Ministry of Finance, reports TV Asahi (Feb. 18).
In June 2016, the parcel measuring 8,770 square meters was bought by incorporated educational institution Moritomo Gakuen, the operator of Osaka’s ultra-conservative Tsukamoto Kindergarten, whose curriculum preaches pre-World War II ideals.
The land was acquired for private elementary school Mizuho no Kuni Kinen Shogakuin, which bills itself as the country’s “first and only Shinto elementary school.” Akie Abe is listed on its website as the honorary principal, and House of Representatives member Takeo Hiranuma is included as a teacher.
The sale price of the land, located in the town of Noda in Toyonaka City, has been revealed by the ministry to have been 134 million yen, about 15 percent of the value (956 million yen) appraised by a real estate professional in May of last year, according to the Asahi (Feb. 11). When initially queried about the sale price by the paper, it refused to divulge that information.
The ministry added that a discount of roughly 800 million yen was applied to the sale price due to household rubbish buried on the property that had to be removed. A contract under the sale price of 134 million yen was finalized with Moritomo Gakuen in June of last year.
“The price was reasonable,” the ministry told TV Asahi.
Nurturing patriotism, pride
Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, aims for “a beautiful, traditional sovereignty for Japan’s future.”
On Mizuho no Kuni’s website, the school is billed as the “first and only Shinto elementary school in Japan.” It has an educational philosophy directed to “honoring the propriety of what it means to be a Japanese person, and nurturing patriotism and pride.”
The school will open this spring, according to its website. As of February 8, the construction of the structure of the school was nearly complete.
The development comes amid findings that managers of a kindergarten in Osaka distributed letters containing racist content to parents.
Prefectural officials questioned the male principal and the deputy principal, who is his wife, of Tsukamoto Kindergarten for saying Korean and Chinese people have “wicked ideas.”
A parent told Kyodo News that they received a handwritten letter by the deputy principal saying, “I don’t discriminate. But in my mind, I hate Koreans and Chinese.”