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Olympics minister's secretary attended meetings between ALT agency, labor ministry

A secretary of Toshiaki Endo, minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, was present at two of four meetings attended by staff from the labor ministry and an employee of a staffing agency for Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), it was learned on Feb. 8.

    The meetings took place before the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology released a notice regarding ALTs. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare was involved in the notice. Endo has earlier acknowledged that he received 9.55 million yen from the founder of the ALT staffing agency between 2010 and 2014 in the form of political donations from a private individual. The Olympics minister is accused of pushing policies in favor of the firm.

    The Mainichi has already reported that Endo's office mediated the meetings, but not that the secretary sat in on them. The latest information comes from the labor ministry as part of the ministry's responses to a probe conducted in the Diet by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Innovation Party.

    According to the labor ministry's supply and demand adjustment project division, in late December 2013 the then head of the division met within the ministry with Endo's secretary and an ALT staffing agency representative. Then, in early January 2014, the then assistant to the division head met with the secretary and the ALT company employee. In early April and early May that year the assistant and the ALT worker met two more times. All the meetings were held at the ministry.

    In dates that fall in the same general time period, on Jan. 10, 2014, the ALT business inquired in writing about ALT contracts to the labor ministry, to which the ministry replied on March 27. The ministry also reported this reply to Endo's secretary that April.

    The education ministry's notice, released in August 2014, clarified the government's take on related laws. A Diet member in attendance at the Feb. 8 probe pointed out that the March 27, 2014 response by the labor ministry to the staffing agency had almost the same content as what ended up in the released notice, which the ministry also acknowledged.

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