TOKYO -- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on April 10 that the government has no knowledge of recently reported documents regarding the establishment of a veterinary school by Kake Educational Institution.
News reports suggest that documents recording exchanges between the central and local governments regarding the school in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, have been found, despite previous central government denials of their existence.
"The government is not aware of such documents," Suga told a news conference on April 10. He added, "I would like to have government ministries and agencies concerned confirm documents on exchanges between them and the Ehime Prefectural Government over the establishment of the new vet department."
Minister in charge of Regional Revitalization Hiroshi Kajiyama also stated, "The Cabinet Office has never seen such documents. As the office is in charge of public document management, I have ordered an investigation into whether such documents have been retained."
In a related development, Tadao Yanase, vice-minister for international affairs at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, released a comment on April 10 stating, "As far as I can remember, I have never met officials of the Ehime Prefectural Government or the Imabari Municipal Government."
Yanase's denial comes after he was questioned in the Diet about suspicions that he met Imabari city officials over the vet school project in April 2015, when Yanase was Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's executive secretary.
Kake Educational Institution is run by Abe's close friend Kotaro Kake, and the vet school project has been subject to accusations of favoritism, along with the scandal-plagued sale of government land to nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen. The vet department opened its doors to its first freshman class earlier this month.
(Japanese original by Katsuya Takahashi, Political News Department)