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Education ministry bureaucrat accused of taking bribe denies asking univ. to admit son

Futoshi Sano (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- An education ministry bureaucrat under arrest on suspicion of accepting a bribe from a medical university in return for helping the school win a ministry grant worth tens of millions of yen has denied having asked the institution to illicitly admit his son, sources familiar with the case said.

It earlier came to light that the bureaucrat, 58-year-old Futoshi Sano, denied the bribery allegations against him during questioning by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation unit.

"I had no authority over the matter (the selection of universities to be covered by the ministry's grant program) because I was director-general of the education minister's secretariat. Nor do I know whether my son was illicitly admitted to the school," he was quoted as telling prosecutors.

However, Sano admitted that he advised the university on how to write a plan on projects the institution submitted to the ministry when it applied for the grant.

Sano stands accused of receiving a bribe in the form of having his son pass Tokyo Medical University's entrance examination for the current academic year by padding his score in return for helping the institution win a ministry grant for private universities.

According to the sources, the special investigation unit has apparently obtained audio data on a conversation between Sano and Masahiko Usui, 77, then chairman of the university, from their meeting in May 2017.

Specifically, the data records show that Usui asked Sano for a favor in selecting the institution as one of the recipients of ministry grants while Sano consulted the chairman about his son's advancement to higher education.

(Japanese original by Kenji Tatsumi, Kazuhiro Toyama and Suyon Kimu, City News Department)

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