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Nationalist primary school opening may be hit by environmental assessment redo

The construction site of Mizuho-no-kuni Elementary School operated by Moritomo Gakuen in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Feb. 24, 2017. (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- The April opening of a new elementary school run by nationalist private school operator Moritomo Gakuen may be affected by a renewed environmental assessment of the property now being considered by the local municipal government.

Moritomo Gakuen has courted controversy with recent revelations of racist outbursts by its chairman Yasunori Kagoike, and a possible sweetheart land deal with the central government for the elementary school property in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture.

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui called on the Toyonaka government to reconfirm the safety of the site after an engineering contractor stated that garbage which had been removed was reburied on a part of the property covered by the new elementary school playground.

Toyonaka Mayor Keiichiro Asari told the Mainichi Shimbun on Feb. 26, "If the report is correct, the garbage is industrial waste and the city has the authority to conduct an assessment." A meeting of senior municipal officials is set for Feb. 27, where they will discuss exactly what any new assessment would cover.

In related news, it has been revealed that Mayor Asari's political funding organization received a 100,000-yen donation from Kagoike in 2014. Asari also apparently met with Kagoike in November that year through an introduction by an old friend in the education sector.

"We did not talk about the elementary school," Asari said of his contacts with Kagoike. "If there are any doubts about my conduct, I will consider returning (the donation)."

Moritomo Gakuen also operates Tsukamoto Kindergarten in Osaka's Yodogawa Ward, where children are made to recite the Imperial Rescript on Education, a militaristic educational edict issued by Emperor Meiji in 1890. 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 for Chinese people) with wicked ideas," and that at one point, the kindergarten had posted remarks on "Korean and Chinese delinquent parents" in addressing previous conflicts with guardians of former students.

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