Court to open trial of ex-Moritomo Gakuen chief
NHK -- Mar 06
A former school operator and his wife will go on trial on Wednesday at the Osaka District Court in western Japan. The former president of Moritomo Gakuen is at the center of a favoritism scandal that rocked the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Yasunori Kagoike and his wife, Junko, face a charge of defrauding the government, Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City out of 170 million yen, or about 1.5 million dollars, in school-related subsidies.

Kagoike is expected to argue that he had no intention of deceiving the authorities. His wife will likely plead not guilty.

Moritomo Gakuen made headlines in 2017 after it was found to have purchased state-owned land to build an elementary school at a price well below market value.

As Prime Minister Abe's wife was named as the honorary principal of the planned school in Osaka, the transaction sparked allegations of favoritism.

The Finance Ministry also admitted to altering more than a dozen official documents on the land deal. The series of revelations prompted opposition parties to grill Abe in the Diet.

Osaka prosecutors have not charged any of the finance ministry officials or others who were subject to criminal complaints over the land deal and document tampering.

Kagoike and his wife were arrested in July 2017 and were kept in detention for nearly 10 months.

Kagoike has criticized what he calls a politically motivated investigation. He accuses prosecutors of trying to appease the Abe administration by silencing him and his wife.

News source: NHK
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