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Recording of ex-Moritomo Gakuen chief and Finance Ministry bureaucrats believed real

The site of an elementary school Moritomo Gakuen had planned to open in April 2017 is seen in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture. (Mainichi)

A Finance Ministry senior official acknowledged on May 8 that an audio recording from 2016 of a meeting between Yasunori Kagoike, the former head of scandal-hit school operator Moritomo Gakuen, and Finance Ministry bureaucrats appears to be real.

The acknowledgement was made by Financial Bureau Director-General Nobuhisa Sagawa during a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

During the May 8 meeting, Sagawa said, "Upon confirming (with the relevant parties), it is believed that the audio recording is indeed of a meeting that took place that day (between Kagoike and Finance Ministry bureaucrats in March 2016)."

In April 2017, Kagoike released the contents of the recording he claimed to be of the March 2016 meeting between himself and Finance Ministry bureaucrats such as Yoshihiro Tamura -- head of the Finance Ministry's National Property Examination and Appraisal Office. The recording relates to the cut-price sale of state-owned land in the Osaka prefectural city of Toyonaka to Moritomo Gakuen, for the purpose of building a new elementary school.

The recording captured negotiations relating to the discovery of large amounts of waste under the ground at the site in Toyonaka, and also includes Tamura referring to the lease of the land as a "special case."

During the budget committee meeting on May 8, Sagawa stated that Tamura had told Kagoike that he would work with the Kinki Local Finance Bureau in responding to the school operator's request.

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