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A year ago, we already noted a strange attribute that accompanies the Japanese Prime Minister’s political career. There’s little doubt that Shinzo Abe is among the most successful Japanese politicians of recent decades and, undoubtedly, he’s the most charismatic among the Japanese political elites, yet he’s been fatally unlucky with female colleagues who often place him in all sorts of peculiar positions. This was the matter in his first term in office, and it remains so still. Yet, this time around a new scandal that is flaring up in Japan wasn’t provoked by a colleague, instead it was triggered by the woman closest to the sitting Prime Minister – his wife, Akie Abe.
The scandal erupted last month, when Japanese media sources started noticing that a strip of land in Osaka was sold to a private buyer for a price six to seven times lower that one would normally expect, with the buyer later established as Moritomo Gakuen, a company that provides private primary education.
This information first appeared on February 10, when Japan’s Prime Minister was on an official trip to the US, along with his wife. Therefore, the largest Japanese media sources apparently decided they would not cast a shadow upon the Japanese head of state during such an important event.
But as soon as Abe’s plane took off in the US to head back to Japan, all leading Japanese newspapers began publicly discussing the Osaka deal. Is should be noted that this local case of corruption landed on the first pages of national media sources due to a number of factors. First, Akie Abe was expected to become the “honorary director” of the primary school that was to be built on this strip of land in question. A number of questions arose in the media after this fact was revealed such as: was she aware of the questionable deal? And if she was, was the Prime Minister told any details about this matter?
The second no less significant circumstance is an entirely political matter. In general, Moritomo Gakuen is considered to represent the extreme right wing of the political spectrum of Japan, since its initial education program is based on the pre-WWII educational system of Japan.
It should be recalled that after the end of World War II a new “anti-militaristic and anti-nationalist” education law was adopted, as a private entity, Moritomo Gakuen is ignoring it. For instance, Japan’s media sources have been reporting that the private school was sending out booklets to the parents of its kindergartens that contained insulting nicknames for Chinese and Koreans.