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Gov't to buy back land sold to scandal-hit Moritomo Gakuen

Mizuho-no-Kuni Kinen Elementary School, which Moritomo Gakuen was planning to open in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture. (Mainichi)

The government is set to buy back a land lot in Osaka Prefecture that scandal-hit nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen acquired at a heavily discounted price, it has been learned.

The land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, was sold in June last year to Moritomo Gakuen for 134 million yen -- more than 800 million yen less than the appraised value of 956 million yen. Moritomo was planning to open a private elementary school on the site.

Moritomo Gakuen, which is under court-mediated rehabilitation, was planning to sell the lot alongside the almost completed school building to a third party.

Under the land purchase contract with the government, Moritomo Gakuen was required to finish preparations to open the elementary school by the end of March this year. If the school failed to do so, the government would be able to purchase back the property for the original sale price.

As the school operator gave up on opening the school on March 10, the government was looking into buying the lot back.

According to a source close to the matter, ownership of the land will soon be transferred to the government. As the trustee administering Moritomo Gakuen's assets had earlier expressed a plan to sell off the lot together with the school building, the trustee is expected to ask the government to purchase them altogether. However, the government is likely to ask that the building be dismantled and removed before the lot is returned.

A special investigation unit of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office is currently probing the shady land deal, alleging that employees at the Finance Ministry's Kinki Local Finance Bureau sold the then state-owned lot to Moritomo Gakuen at an unjustly low price.

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