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Yanase named in Cabinet Office email on Ehime officials' PM office visit over Kake plan

A printout of an email that the Cabinet Office sent to the education ministry is seen in this photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on April 20, 2018. (Mainichi)
Tadao Yanase (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- An education ministry probe related to the new Kake Educational Institution veterinary school in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, has discovered an email sent from the Cabinet Office to the ministry indicating Ehime prefectural officials would meet the prime minister's secretary, education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said.

The email was found in printed form at the ministry, Hayashi told an April 20 news conference following a regular Cabinet meeting. The email indicates that officials of the Ehime Prefectural and Imabari Municipal governments as well as Kake institution officials would meet with Tadao Yanase, then executive secretary to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on April 2, 2015.

A document compiled by the Ehime Prefectural Government also says city and prefecture officials as well as high-ranking members of Kake met with Yanase beginning at 3 p.m. that day after holding talks with Yutaka Fujiwara, then deputy head of the Office for Promotion of Regional Revitalization at the Cabinet Office, earlier in the day.

The email in question was sent from an education ministry official who was on loan to the Cabinet Office at the time, to an official in charge at the ministry's Office for Administrative Reform. The email was received at 12:48 p.m. on April 2, 2015. It says that the officials of the local bodies as well as those from Kake met with Fujiwara for an hour beginning at 11:30 a.m. on that day.

The message goes on to say, "It appears that they will also meet with Mr. Yanase, secretary to the prime minister, from 3 p.m. today"

The email quotes Fujiwara as saying in the meeting, "Whether institutional reform can be achieved depends on the mayor and governor's enthusiasm. It hinges on how far they can show that enthusiasm."

An Ehime Prefectural Government document quotes Yanase as telling the prefectural and other officials that the Kake institution's veterinary school plan was "a matter concerning the prime minister," although Yanase denies having met with the local government officials.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry began an internal probe on April 17 into whether the email in question existed, and interviewed officials who then worked at the ministry's Technical Education Division that oversees veterinary schools, as well as the Office for Administrative Reform, which coordinates with other government ministries and agencies.

During the questioning, an official at the administrative reform office was quoted as saying, "There's a possibility that we kept the email in printed form." The ministry then searched the office and found the document. The email may have been deleted from computers.

The probe has also found that an education ministry official was asked by a co-worker on loan to the prime minister's office at the time to explain the ministry's stance toward the Kake institution's vet school plan on the grounds that prefectural and other officials would come to lobby the government over the matter. However, the official on loan was quoted as saying in the probe that he does not remember making such a request.

(Japanese original by Takuya Izawa, City News Department)

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