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Chairman of nationalistic school operator in shady land deal made racist remarks

The chairman of a school operator at the center of a murky purchase of state land at a massive discount has stirred controversy over remarks targeting Chinese and Koreans.

Moritomo Gakuen operates Tsukamoto Kindergarten in Osaka's Yodogawa Ward, where children are made to recite the Imperial Rescript on Education, an educational edict issued by Emperor Meiji in 1890 and linked with militaristic education in prewar Japan. The kindergarten's website states that every morning its students recite the Imperial Rescript on Education and sing Kimigayo, the national anthem whose lyrics praise the emperor's reign.

It emerged in January that Tsukamoto Kindergarten had distributed handouts to students' guardians with expressions such as "Korean nationals living in Japan and Shinajin (a discriminatory term used to refer to Chinese people) with wicked ideas," and that at one point, the kindergarten had posted remarks on "Korean and Chinese former delinquent parents" in addressing conflicts it had had with guardians of former students.

The Osaka Prefectural Government questioned Moritomo Gakuen Chairman Yasunori Kagoike about the incidents, after which the discriminatory expressions on the website were deleted.

Members of the Osaka Prefectural Private School Council voiced concerns at a Feb. 22 meeting about the handouts that had been distributed to students' guardians. Additionally, at a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on Feb. 23, opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Masato Imai revealed that a guardian of a student at Tsukamoto Kindergarten had received a letter from the kindergarten that said, "I am not discriminating against anyone. But in my heart of hearts, I hate Koreans and Chinese."

"Such behavior is unacceptable, coming from an educator, of all people," Imai said.

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