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Moritomo Gakuen head claims 21 mil. yen refund from construction firm was 'donation'

OSAKA -- The new head of scandal-tainted school operator Moritomo Gakuen said on April 9 that she views a 21 million yen refund from a construction company as a donation to the firm.

The construction company handled cleanup work on a state-owned lot that the school operator acquired at a heavily discounted price. Chinami Kagoike, the daughter of former chairman Yasunori Kagoike, appeared on a Fuji Television Network program on the evening of April 9 and said the Osaka-based construction firm is included in a list of contributors.

The company, however, directly opposes Kagoike's explanation, with a representative saying that the money was not a donation.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and other sources, Moritomo Gakuen signed a lease agreement with the state for the property in the Osaka Prefecture city of Toyonaka in May 2015 to build an elementary school. After lead-contaminated soil and waste were discovered at the site, the school operator hired the Osaka-based construction firm to perform soil improvement work. The firm worked on the land between July and December that same year. Moritomo Gakuen then demanded 131.76 million yen from the state for the cleanup cost, as it was the owner of the property. The school operator received the payment in April 2016.

On the data sheet for the soil improvement work, however, the construction firm wrote down the cost of the work as being approximately 100 million yen. The company told the Mainichi Shimbun that it was paid about 131 million yen by Moritomo Gakuen by December 2015. Then chairman Yasunori Kagoike subsequently asked the firm to pay some of the money back, and the company refunded around 21 million yen to Moritomo Gakuen, according to the company. A company official told the Mainichi that the school operator had asked the company for a donation prior to the refund, but the firm rejected the request.

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