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Former top education bureaucrat opposes green-lighting Kake vet school

Former administrative vice education minister Kihei Maekawa (Mainichi)

Former administrative vice education minister Kihei Maekawa, who became a key figure in exposing a favoritism scandal involving Kake Educational Institution, which is headed by a close friend of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has criticized an advisory panel's recommendation to green-light the institution's plan to open a new veterinary department in Ehime Prefecture.

"Education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi should not give approval," Maekawa told the Mainichi Shimbun. His comment came after the education ministry disclosed on Nov. 10 that its Council for University Chartering and School Juridical Person had recommended that Kake Educational Institution's plan to open the vet school be endorsed.

The panel's report effectively cleared the way for the institution to open the vet department, which is affiliated with Okayama University of Science, in a national strategic special zone in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, in the spring of 2018.

The vet school plan became a center of controversy after the favoritism scandal extending to Prime Minister Abe emerged. Maekawa was the education ministry's top bureaucrat at the time of the alleged favoritism for the Kake institution's chairman Kotaro Kake, whom Abe calls his "soul mate."

Referring to the administrative processes that led to the decision by the government's national strategic special zone council to relax regulations for opening a new vet school in November last year, Maekawa said, "The discussion should be sent back to the council." He reiterated his position that the administrative processes for national strategic special zones were "distorted" by those who surmised the intentions of Prime Minister Abe.

"If the application (for opening the vet school) was rescreened seriously, it would be turned down," Maekawa said.

Maekawa also mentioned the points of concern that the education ministry panel presented as issues to be addressed, saying, "There are many faculty members (set to teach at the vet school) who are close to their retirement age. If they were to retire before the school's first student body graduates, it would be irresponsible."

He also blasted the lack of a doctoral course at the vet school.

"There's no way they can carry out state-of-the-art research without a doctoral program," Maekawa said.

Furthermore, the former top bureaucrat called into question the 9.6 billion yen subsidy planned to be granted to Kake Educational Institution by local authorities.

"Will that money be granted for sure? I think the basis for such funds is weak," he said.

Maekawa urged the public to continue to pursue the Kake scandal and other favoritism allegations.

"The government may be waiting for the public to forget about the scandals. The question is whether members of the public will keep pursuing the allegations. If they don't, there will emerge yet more cases of public administration being exploited for private purposes," he said.

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