KYOTO -- Officials of a university here that had been competing with Kake Educational Institution for permission to establish a veterinary school were never invited to the prime minister's office, a former professor at the school has told the Mainichi Shimbun.
Koichi Otsuki, 76, who retired from Kyoto Sangyo University this past March, described the government's treatment of his university versus that of Kake as "unfair."
Tadao Yanase, former executive secretary to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, testified before the Diet on May 10 as an unsworn witness that he had met Kake institution officials at the prime minister's office on April 2, 2015.
Kake's plan to open a new veterinary department in the Ehime Prefecture city of Imabari, part of a national strategic special zone with relaxed regulation, was approved by the national government. The school, a part of Kake's Okayama University of Science, welcomed its first students in April this year.
Otsuki said he met with Yutaka Fujiwara, then deputy head of the Office for Promotion of Regional Revitalization at the Cabinet Office, in January 2016, two months before Kyoto Sangyo University proposed a new veterinary department in a national strategic special zone. Otsuki quoted Fujiwara as telling him, "You brought this plan in so late. Imabari is more enthusiastic."
Between 2007 and 2014, the Imabari municipal and Ehime prefectural governments sent a total of 15 applications to the central government to have the city designated a special zone for structural reform to open the way for the establishment of a veterinary school. However, all of the applications were rejected. The local bodies made one more application in June 2015, this time under the framework of a national strategic special zone.
Kyoto Sangyo University, based in the ancient capital's Kita Ward, also unveiled its plan to establish a veterinary department at a national government meeting on national strategic special zones in March 2016.
However, the government's Council on National Strategic Special Zones decided in November of the same year to permit the establishment of a veterinary department only in an area where there was no other vet school nearby. Kyoto Sangyo University could not meet this condition because there is another university with a veterinarian training course in the Kansai region.
Furthermore, the Cabinet Office and the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry decided to endorse the establishment of only one veterinary school that could open in academic 2018. Kyoto Sangyo University abandoned its application after deeming that it could not meet the deadline.
Otsuki said these two conditions "came out all of a sudden," adding that he still does not understand why they were attached. However, Otsuki said he later heard that it was "a matter concerning the prime minister" and felt that the process leading up to the selection of Kake fit into that context.
However, Otsuki declined to comment further on the matter as students are already enrolled in the Kake vet department.
"I shouldn't comment any further as someone who was an educator, considering the feelings of the students and their parents. The Diet should address the case as part of its political responsibility," Otsuki said.
(Japanese original by Mai Suganuma, Kyoto Bureau)