今井雅人・民進党の“隠蔽”発言に安倍晋三総理激怒 【国会中継 衆議院 予算委員会】平成29年2月24日
Bigotry and Fraud Scandal at Kindergarten Linked to Japan’s First Lady
By JONATHAN SOBLE FEB. 24, 2017
A morning assembly at the Tsukamoto Kindergarten in Osaka, Japan, in November. Children at the school march to military music and recite instructions for patriotic behavior laid down by a 19th-century emperor. Credit Ha Kwiyeon/Reuters
TOKYO — At Tsukamoto Kindergarten, an ultraconservative school at the center of a swirling Japanese political scandal, children receive the sort of education their prewar great-grandparents might have recognized.
They march in crisp rows to military music. They recite instructions for patriotic behavior laid down by a 19th-century emperor. The intent, the school says, is to “nurture patriotism and pride” in the children of Japan, “the purest nation in the world.”
Now Tsukamoto and its traditionalist supporters — including the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — are under fire. The school has been accused of promoting bigotry against Chinese and Koreans and of receiving illicit financial favors from the government.
A growing outcry has put Mr. Abe’s conservative administration on the defensive and drawn attention to the darker side of an increasingly influential right-wing education movement in Japan.
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Mr. Abe said on Friday in Parliament that his wife, Akie Abe, had resigned as “honorary principal” of a new elementary school being built by Tsukamoto’s owner.
The school sits on land that the owner, a private foundation, bought from the government at a steep discount — a favorable deal that invited charges of special treatment after details surfaced this month.
“My wife and I are not involved at all in the school’s licensing or land acquisition,” Mr. Abe told the legislature. “If we were, I would resign as a politician.”
Mr. Abe and other Japanese conservatives often accuse the education system of liberal bias, seeing it as a place where left-wing teachers spread “masochistic” narratives about Japanese war guilt and promote individualism and pacifism over sturdier traditional values.
Tsukamoto is at the extreme edge of an effort by rightists to push back, said Manabu Sato, a professor who studies education at Gakushuin University in Tokyo.
“It’s a rejection of the postwar education system, whose basic principles are pacifism and democracy,” Professor Sato said.
Akie Abe, center, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Florida this month with the first lady Melania Trump. Ms. Abe has resigned as “honorary principal” of a new school being built by the owner of Tsukamoto, which has been accused of receiving illicit financial favors from the government. Credit Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
At Tsukamoto, displays of old-style patriotism have sometimes shaded into prejudice.
The school apologized on its website last week for statements that contained “expressions that could invite misunderstanding from foreigners.”
Parents said complaints about mundane-seeming matters like parent-teacher association fees would be met with chauvinistic diatribes, with school officials accusing “Koreans and Chinese with evil ideas” of stirring up trouble. They said the school’s principal, Yasunori Kagoike, accused parents who challenged the school of having Korean or Chinese ancestors.
“The problem,” Mr. Kagoike said in one notice sent to parents, was that people who had “inherited the spirit” of foreigners “exist in our country with the looks of Japanese people.”
Mr. Abe has made overhauling Japanese education a priority throughout his career, championing a similar if softer version of the traditionalism practiced at Tsukamoto.
In early publicity pamphlets for its new elementary school obtained by the Japanese news media, Mr. Kagoike proposed naming it after Mr. Abe. Mr. Kagoike later opted for a different name, a change that the prime minister said had been made at his request.
Mr. Abe has supported a drive to amend history textbooks, toning down depictions of Japan’s abuses in its onetime Asian empire, and he passed legislation to make “moral education” — including the promotion of patriotism — a standard part of the public school curriculum.
Tsukamoto has taken the patriotic approach to schooling further.
It first gained notoriety a few years ago for having pupils recite the Imperial Rescript on Education, a royal decree issued in 1890 that served as the basis for Japan’s militaristic prewar school curriculum and that was repudiated after World War II.
Conservatives see the rescript as a paean to traditional values; liberals as a throwback to a more authoritarian era. It encourages students to love their families, to “extend benevolence to all” and to “pursue learning and cultivate arts” — but also to be “good and faithful subjects” of the emperor and to “offer yourselves courageously to the state” when called upon to do so.
In interviews, five mothers who pulled their children out of Tsukamoto said they had encountered chauvinism at the school or had been attacked by Mr. Kagoike or his wife, who serves as vice principal, often in ethnically bigoted terms. They asked for anonymity because they feared social ostracism for speaking out.
One mother said her family liked South Korea and often vacationed there, but that when her son told his teacher of a planned trip, the teacher said that Korea was a “dirty place” and that the family should visit “somewhere better in Japan.”
Another mother said teachers had told her that her son “smelled like a dog,” and that Mr. Kagoike had called her “an anti-Japanese foreigner.” (She is Japanese.)
Mr. Abe, center, has made overhauling Japanese education a priority throughout his career, championing a similar if softer version of the traditionalism practiced at Tsukamoto. Credit Kazuhiro Nogi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Attempts to reach Mr. Kagoike failed. A woman who answered the telephone at the foundation that operates Tsukamoto, Moritomo Gakuen, said the Japanese news reports about the school and its land deal had been “unfair,” but she did not elaborate. Multiple follow-up calls went unanswered.
In addition to serving as principal of the kindergarten, Mr. Kagoike heads Moritomo Gakuen and is a director of the Osaka branch of Nippon Kaigi, a prominent right-wing pressure group that includes Mr. Abe and other influential conservative politicians as members.
In a message on Moritomo Gakuen’s website, which the foundation removed on Thursday, Ms. Abe praised it for “nurturing children with strong backbones, who have pride as Japanese, on a basis of superior moral education.”
Japan’s defense minister, Tomomi Inada, has also praised the foundation, sending Mr. Kagoike a formal letter of appreciation for his work.
The land deal that turned Tsukamoto from a subject of raised liberal eyebrows into a full-fledged scandal took place last year, though the details took months to emerge.
The Finance Ministry allowed Moritomo Gakuen to have the land — a two-acre vacant lot near an airport in an Osaka suburb — for 134 million yen, or about $1.18 million, according to government records and testimony by ministry officials in Parliament.
The price, which the ministry initially kept sealed, was surprisingly low. The ministry had previously assessed the land’s value at 956 million yen, seven times higher. In comparison, a neighboring plot only slightly larger was bought by the local municipality, Toyonaka City, for 1.4 billion yen in 2010.
The ministry says it lowered the price to account for cleanup costs that Moritomo Gakuen would have had to bear. It said the lot contained discarded concrete and other refuse as well as elevated levels of arsenic and lead.
Opposition politicians are pressing the ministry to explain its calculations. The national daily Asahi Shimbun, which broke the story, quoted Mr. Kagoike as saying Moritomo Gakuen had spent “about 100 million yen” on cleanup, a fraction of the discount it received.
The new elementary school now sits partially built on the lot.
Eiichi Kajita, the president of Naragakuen University who also was chairman of the licensing council that granted Moritomo Gakuen permission for the school, said the council had not been told about the land deal when it made its deliberations.
He said Moritomo Gakuen’s ideology, which includes an emphasis on Shintoism, Japan’s ancient animist religion, was not a barrier to its opening a school, but that the council was reviewing its decision.
“If there was something inappropriate, permission could be revoked,” he said. “Whether they’re Shintoists or rightists, if parents want that, it’s not our place to object.”
Follow Jonathan Soble on Twitter @jonathan_soble.
Makiko Inoue contributed reporting.
Fri Feb 24, 2017 | 6:17am EST
Japan PM's wife cuts ties with school at heart of political furor
The construction site for an elementary school of Moritomo Gakuen, an educational institution, is seen in Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan February 18, 2017, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Picture taken February 18, 2017. Kyodo/via REUTERS
By Kaori Kaneko and Linda Sieg | TOKYO
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife has cut ties with an elementary school involved in a land deal that provoked opposition questions just as the Japanese leader was basking in the glow of a friendly summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Abe has said neither he nor his wife, Akie, was involved in a murky deal for the purchase of state-owned land by Moritomo Gakuen, an educational body in the western city of Osaka that also runs a kindergarten promoting patriotism.
The affair has energized the often-floundering opposition, offering a reminder of the unexpected pitfalls that could still emerge for Abe's seemingly stable rule, now in its fifth year.
Abe, grilled about the purchase of the land at a rock-bottom price, said on Friday his wife would scrap a plan to become honorary principal of an elementary school the institution will open in April.
Last year, Moritomo Gakuen paid 134 million yen ($1.2 million), or 14 percent of the appraisal price, for an 8,770-sq-m (94,400-square-foot) plot on which to build the elementary school, official data show.
The difference reflects the cost of waste cleanup at the site, officials have said. Finance Minister Taro Aso told parliament this week there were no problems with the deal.
Abe said his wife had tried to refuse the role as honorary principal, and only accepted after it was announced to parents.
"Despite this, she decided that it would be detrimental for both the students and the parents if she continued, and so she told them she would resign," he added.
The institution's president, Yasunori Kagoike, heads the Osaka branch of Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, a nationalist lobby group with close ties to Abe and his cabinet.
On the school's website, Akie had said: "I was impressed by Mr. Kagoike's passion for education and have assumed the post of honorary principal."
Abe said the comments were removed from the website on Thursday at his wife's request.
Abe reiterated that he had declined to let his name be used when Moritomo Gakuen sought donations for what it called the "Abe Shinzo Memorial Elementary School".
He has also denied that either he or his wife was involved in obtaining approval for the school, or in the land acquisition, saying last Friday that he would resign if evidence to the contrary were found.
The main opposition Democratic Party has seized on the affair. "The prime minister is talking as if he were the victim, but it is the people who should be angry," Democratic Party lawmaker Kiyomi Tsujimoto told reporters.
Abe returned to office in 2012 for a rare second term, promising to reboot the economy and bolster defense policies, after having abruptly quit in 2007, following a year marked by scandals in his cabinet, a big election loss and ill-health.
His cabinet this time has lost several ministers to money scandals, but Abe himself has been untainted by scandal.
Abe's approval rating rose five points to 66 percent in a media survey after his summit with Trump, where the leaders hugged, golfed and reaffirmed the U.S.-Japan alliance.
But his popularity could take a hit if the scandal continues to preoccupy the media, some political analysts said.
"The thing that makes a scandal really serious is when it keeps getting headlines," said Chuo University political science professor Steven Reed.
(Additional writing by Elaine Lies; Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
Shinzo Abe and wife under pressure over ties to ultra-nationalist school
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Friday 24 February 2017 08.01 GMT
Akie Abe’s links to kindergarten under intense scrutiny in Japan after reports it bought state land at a knockdown price
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and his wife, Akie, have attempted to distance themselves from an ultra-nationalist educational institution mired in allegations of racism and a sweetheart land deal.
Akie Abe’s links to Moritomo Gakuen, a private kindergarten in Osaka, have come under scrutiny after the media reported that the preschool had bought state-owned land at a seventh of its listed price for a primary school it plans to open in April. She stepped down as honorary principal of the primary school on Friday, soon after it had removed her message of support from its website.
In the message, she endorsed the school’s attempts to foster national pride through moral education – an approach that harks back to pre-war militarism – adding that she had been impressed by the passion shown by the Moritomo president, Yasunori Kagoike.
The issue has dominated parliamentary debate this week, with opposition MPs demanding an explanation as to why the school was allowed to buy land at such a low price.
Shinzo Abe said he had protested against the use of his name when Moritomo was seeking donations for the Abe Shinzo memorial primary school. It has since decided to call itself the Mizuho no Kuni – meaning “land of rice” – primary school.
He said his wife had decided to step down after the couple discussed the controversy, adding that she had been left with no choice but to accept the role of honorary principal after her appointment was announced in front of parents.
“Despite this, she decided that it would be detrimental for both the students and the parents if she continued and so she told them she would resign,” Abe told a parliamentary committee on Friday. “It is true that she was on the website as honorary principal but at her request, this was removed.”
He denied that either of them had played any role in helping Moritomo gain approval to purchase government-owned land for below its listed price. He has offered to resign if proof of his involvement is produced.
Moritomo’s curriculum is designed to instil patriotism in its pupils, who are required to bow before portraits of members of the imperial family and go on field trips to military bases. Children aged between three and five sing the national anthem every morning and memorise the 1890 imperial rescript on education (pdf), which demands loyalty to the emperor and sacrifice for one’s country. The US occupation authorities banned the rescript, believing it had fuelled pre-war militarism.
Kagoike is the Osaka branch leader of Nippon Kaigi, an ultra-conservative lobby group whose members include Shinzo Abe and more than a dozen members of his cabinet. The group wants to rebuild the military, claims that Japan “liberated” east Asia from western colonialism during the war, and that the US-authored post-war constitution has emasculated the country’s “true, original characteristics”.
Japanese media recently revealed that Moritomo had bought the 8,770 sq metre plot of government-owned land for 134m yen (£950,000), 14% of its appraisal price. Government officials claim the deduction was made to factor in the cost of cleaning up industrial waste on the site.
Earlier this month, Osaka officials questioned Kagoike after the kindergarten sent a letter to parents that denigrated Chinese people and Korean residents of Japan – for which it later apologised.
Kagoike has denied any wrongdoing in the land purchase. “I haven’t done anything wrong,” he said in a radio interview. Instead, he blamed the “non-conservative media” for attempting to “crush our plans for a school that respects history and tradition”.
Akie Abe’s connections to Moritomo run deeper than her short-lived role as honorary principal. Footage of a visit she made to its sister kindergarten in 2015 shows her telling parents: “My husband also thinks that education policy here is excellent.”
She has won plaudits for appearing to support liberal causes, having attended the Tokyo rainbow pride event in 2014 and spoken of her admiration for South Korean culture.
She has also questioned the government’s decision to build hundreds of miles of concrete sea walls to protect the coastline against tsunamis.
Japon: Shinzo Abe mêlé à un scandale
Par Le Figaro.fr avec AFP Mis à jour le 24/02/2017 à 17:39 Publié le 24/02/2017 à 17:27
Le premier ministre japonais Shinzo Abe est pris aujourd'hui dans une vive polémique sur une transaction immobilière trouble dans laquelle il a nié être impliqué devant le Parlement.
» Lire aussi - Japon: carton rouge sur la corruption
M. Abe s'est engagé aujourd'hui à démissioner si une malversation de sa part était constatée. "Je prendrai mes responsabilités en tant que politique si mon épouse et moi-même sommes impliqués", a-t-il déclaré.
L'affaire concerne l'achat l'an dernier d'un lopin de terre à Osaka par l'opérateur d'un jardin d'enfants ultraconservateur. Selon les médias, l'école, Moritomo Gakuen, n'a payé que 134 millions de yens (1,13 million d'euros) pour 9.000 mètres carrés, environ un dixième du prix d'un terrain voisin de taille comparable.
Des soupçons se sont fait entendre affirmant que l'opérateur Yasunori Kagoike du jardin d'enfants n'avait pu obtenir un tel prix que par ses liens avec le Premier ministre nationaliste.
Jusqu'à récemment, le site internet du jardin d'enfants indiquait que l'épouse du Premier ministre, Akie, deviendrait directrice honoraire de la nouvelle école primaire à ériger sur ce terrain.
Au Japon, zéro pointé pour l’école de la morale
Un établissement privé de l’archipel prônant des valeurs traditionnelles et patriotiques serait impliqué dans un scandale politico-financier. Les donneurs de leçon devront-ils en recevoir une ?
M le magazine du Monde | 27.02.2017 à 12h15 | Par Philippe Mesmer (Tokyo, correspondance)
Pour les nationalistes japonais, il y a morale et morale. Celle que l’on professe et celle, plus fluctuante, avec laquelle certains font des affaires. Le 1er avril devrait ouvrir à Toyonaka (département d’Osaka) la « première et unique école primaire shintoïste du Japon », un projet lancé par Moritomo Gakuen, une société locale spécialisée dans l’enseignement privé. Sur le site de l’établissement, l’école Mizuho no Kuni Kinen, on apprend que l’objectif est de « réaffirmer le caractère impérial du Japon », ou encore d’« honorer la famille impériale », notamment au travers du culte shinto, la religion première de l’archipel. Mais voilà l’ouverture de cette école désormais accompagnée d’un soupçon de scandale politico-financier.
Moritomo Gakuen gère plusieurs établissements où l’enseignement se fonde sur les principes nationalistes d’avant la seconde guerre mondiale. Ainsi le rescrit impérial sur l’éducation, rédigé en 1890, lu plusieurs fois par an dans toutes les écoles jusqu’en 1945 pour inculquer les préceptes nationalistes, est remis au goût du jour. « En vue de la prospérité et de la grandeur de l’empire, souligne notamment ce texte, prenez toujours en main l’intérêt public, remplissez bien votre emploi, votre charge ; respectez la Constitution, obéissez aux lois et, en cas de nécessité, soyez prêts à vous sacrifier pour la nation. » Cet enseignement bénéficie d’appuis solides. Toujours sur le site de la nouvelle école, il s’avère qu’Akie Abe, épouse du très nationaliste premier ministre Shinzo Abe, en est la proviseure honoraire. Pour elle, les élèves doivent « devenir des leaders du Japon de demain, actifs dans la communauté internationale ». L’école est également soutenue par la Nippon Kaigi (conférence du Japon), influente structure ultranationaliste et traditionaliste qui compte parmi ses membres actifs Yasunori Kagoike, président de Moritomo Gakuen, et Shinzo Abe.
Les principes moraux mis en avant par les promoteurs du projet se heurtent, dans les faits, à une réalité moins avouable. L’acquisition du terrain pour l’école fait l’objet d’un procès. Moritomo Gakuen l’aurait acheté auprès du ministère du territoire pour seulement 134 millions de yens (1,11 million d’euros), soit environ 15 % des tarifs normaux. Le ministère a reconnu que le terrain avait été estimé à 956 millions de yens, mais qu’une réduction avait été accordée car il était encombré de déchets divers. Révélée par le quotidien de centre gauche Asahi, l’affaire a fait l’objet le 18 février d’une question au chef du gouvernement. « Je quitterai mes postes de premier ministre et de député s’il apparaît que ma femme ou moi sommes impliqués dans la transaction », a-t-il répondu.
Quant au président de Moritomo Gakuen, il n’en est pas à sa première affaire. Le 16 février, sa femme et lui ont été entendus par la police pour avoir tenu des propos haineux. Dans
un document distribué en décembre 2016 aux parents d’élèves d’une autre école gérée
par Moritomo Gakuen, ils affirmaient que les résidents chinois et coréens du Japon
étaient animés de « pensées méchantes ». En février 2016, son épouse avait écrit à une mère d’écolier qu’elle « détestait les Coréens et les Chinois ».
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