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Related Categories: San Francisco | Anti-War | Education & Student Activism | Government & Elections | Racial Justice View other events for the week of 2/21/2018
Protest Corrupt Racist Abe Administration & His Wife Akie-Stop The Nukes, Stop US/JPN Wars
Date Wednesday February 21
Time 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Location Details
St. Regis Hotel
125 Third St.
San Francisco
Event Type Press Conference
Organizer/AuthorUnited Public Workers For Action
2/21 Protest Corrupt Racist Abe Administration And His Wife Akie-Stop The Nukes, Stop US/JPN Militarization/Secrecy Laws/Conpiracy Laws/Stop Education Of Privatization, Union Busting And War Mongering

Exposing Education Privatization Corruption And Racist Rightwing Nationalism In Japan-Protest Against Akia Abe
Thursday Feb 21 at 5:00 PM
St. Regis Hotel
125 Third St.
San Francisco

The Japanese Abe government is restarting the many nuclear plants in Japan despite the mass opposition of the Japanese people and the environmental dangers to the world. It also is demanding that the families return to Fukushima because it has been supposedly “decontaminated”.
Akie Abe and her husband Shinzo have also been pushing militarization in public education and privatization of schools in Japan and personally supporting rightwing nationalist schools with illegal public subsidies. The Abe government has harassed and bullied teachers who are against militarization in the schools and also against the “denialists” in the government who say that there were no ‘comfort women’ or sexual slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army during the 2nd WW.
The Abe government is also spending $500 million around the world to stop the building of memorials for the 'comfort women' and heavily lobbied the SF Board of Supervisors to oppose the building of a memorial here is San Francisco. Their supporters publicly attacked one of the mothers eighty-nine-year old Lee Yong-soo, a "prostitutes" and "liar" at the SF Board Of Supervisors. Akie talks about honoring women and is being "honored in SF for honoring women" but she and her husband do the opposite in San Francisco.

Abe and his wife are also presently involved in a corruption scandal with Akie being the “honorary” principle of a privately run racist school in Japan being built by the owner of Tsukamoto, which has been accused of receiving illicit financial favors from the government. This school has incited racist attack on Korean, Korean Japanese and Chinese. The school according to the NYT was praised by Ms. Abe for “nurturing children with strong backbones, who have pride as Japanese, on a basis of superior moral education.” Apparently corruption and stealing funds from the Japanese government is part and parcel of her “moral education”.
Also according to reports "five mothers who pulled their children out of Tsukamoto said they had encountered chauvinism at the school or had been attacked by Mr. Kagoike or his wife, who serves as vice principal, often in ethnically bigoted terms. They asked for anonymity because they feared social ostracism for speaking out.
One mother said her family liked South Korea and often vacationed there, but that when her son told his teacher of a planned trip, the teacher said that Korea was a “dirty place” and that the family should visit “somewhere better in Japan.” Another mother said teachers had told her that her son “smelled like a dog,” and that Mr. Kagoike had called her “an anti-Japanese foreigner.” (She is Japanese.)”
The Abe government has also moved ahead with supporting the building of US bases in Okinawa despite the opposition of the people and environmentalists. The US used Okinawa as a base for US military intervention in Asia and during the Vietnam war, B52 bombers were used every day to kill and destroy the people of Vietnam. The US people must demand that we get our bases out of Okinawa and leave the Okinawan people in peace. They face regular rapes by US military personnel and dangerous accidents harming the people of Okinawa. It is also used as a testing ground for the Osprey helicopters and other deadly US weapons on the small island.

The drive for militarization and war along with restarting the many Japanese nuclear plants is a threat to the Japanese and the people of the world.
Join Us and Speak Out For Justice, Against War and For The Families Of Fukushima

This rally and press conference is endorsed by
United Public Workers For Action.
No Nukes Action Committee

If you would like to endorse and support or want more information please contact
info [at]

Lotus Leadership Awards
Akie Abe, Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan
Colorful Girls

Master of Ceremony
Mina Kim, News Anchor at NPR station KQED

125 Third Street
San Francisco

21 February 2018
6:00 PM

Lotus Leadership Awards honor those who have made major contributions to the well-being of women and advancing gender equality in Asia

Mrs. Abe is Chairperson of the Foundation for Social Contribution and is engaged in social and civic activities, such as school construction in Myanmar. Born in Tokyo, Mrs. Abe is married to Mr. Shinzo Abe, the 98th Prime Minister of Japan and has devoted herself to the fields of education, women’s empowerment, and international exchanges. She is also involved in agriculture, including rice farming initiatives in the city of Shimonoseki. In 2014, Mrs. Abe established “UZU Workshop,” a leadership and learning community that organizes panel discussions and other programs to support and advocate for women.
Colorful Girls is a grassroots nonprofit in Myanmar empowering adolescent girls of all ethnicities with leadership skills to advocate for their rights. One teenage Colorful Girl created a successful campaign to overcome harassment of women on public buses in Yangon. Please watch this short film to learn more about the Colorful Girls:

For table purchases and sponsorship opportunities
please email wendy.soone-broder [at]


Tomomi Inada, the defense minister, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviewing an honor guard at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo in September. Ms. Inada is fighting calls for her resignation.CreditKazuhiro Nogi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan has staked a significant part of his governing agenda on his plans to empower women. But an unrelenting scandal over allegations that a right-wing education group received improper political favors has ensnared two of the most prominent women in Mr. Abe’s life: his wife, Akie Abe, and his defense minister, Tomomi Inada.

The scandal has dented Mr. Abe’s popularity, and his feminist credentials have been especially hard hit.

As the scandal began to dominate headlines last month, Mrs. Abe resigned as honorary principal of a new school planned by the right-wing group in Osaka. The group, Moritomo Gakuen, promotes elements from Japan’s prewar patriotic school curriculum and bought land from the government at a steep discount.

Last week, the leader of the group said Mrs. Abe gave him an envelope of cash two years ago as a donation from the prime minister, a claim Mr. Abe has vociferously denied.Ms. Inada, Japan’s second female defense minister, whom Mr. Abe has been grooming to be his successor, is fighting calls for her resignation after she retracted a statement that she had never represented the school group in a lawsuit. In fact, she appeared in court on its behalf in 2004. She said she had initially forgotten and apologized in Parliament.

High-profile women are often scrutinized in Japan, which ranks the lowest among advanced industrial countries for female representation in Parliament. But the emergence of Mrs. Abe and Ms. Inada as central figures in the school scandal has emboldened critics who have long portrayed them as problematic advocates for women’s rights.

Mrs. Abe’s feminism is “quite shallow,” said Jiro Yamaguchi, a professor of political science at Hosei University. He added that although Mrs. Abe appeared occasionally at events that campaigned for women in agriculture or innovation in women’s work-life balance, the first lady had not been seen as committed to real, systemic change.

Mrs. Abe, who did not respond to requests for comment, has supported women’s causes in Iran and is a patron of the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, whose mission is to provide a college education to women from deprived backgrounds. In her memoir, “I Live My Own Life,” Mrs. Abe said she supported her husband’s efforts to create a society in which “women can shine,” writing that “women don’t need to work just like men do.”

The Japanese news media sometimes describes Mrs. Abe as the prime minister’s “at-home opposition party,” because she has expressed more progressive views on issues like lesbian and gay rights and nuclear power in addition to supporting women’s causes.


Japan’s first lady, Akie Abe, center, at a fund-raiser in Tokyo last week for the Asian University for Women. She has occasionally been described in the news media as the prime minister’s “at-home opposition party” because she has expressed some more progressive views.CreditJérémie Souteyrat for The New York Times
But the disclosure of her ties to the right-wing school group has undermined that reputation.

Moritomo Gakuen already operates a kindergarten that requires students to recite the Imperial Rescript on Education, a 19th-century royal decree that prescribes that subjects be “ever united in loyalty and filial piety” and that “husbands and wives be harmonious.” Its leader, Yasunori Kagoike, has been accused of bigotry against Chinese and Koreans.

In response to questions for Mrs. Abe, the office of the prime minister referred to his comments in Parliament on Friday, when he defended his wife, saying that she had never given money to the school group and that neither of them was involved in selling public land to the proposed school.

Moritomo Gakuen has decided it will not build the school and has been ordered to return the land to the government. Mr. Kagoike is expected to testify in Parliament on Thursday..

Women who want to see more female representation in positions of power say they are even more disappointed by Ms. Inada.

“Inada is anti-feminist,” said Mari Miura, a professor of political science at Sophia University, pointing to the defense minister’s membership in an ultraconservative activist group that believes women belong in the home. She added that Ms. Inada had resisted calls to push legislation that would allow married women to use different surnames from those of their husbands, a cause important to Japanese feminists.

Ms. Miura said Mr. Abe had chosen Ms. Inada because she shared his revisionist view that Japan had been unfairly accused of atrocities in World War II. “The women chosen by him are just symbolic or a cosmetic way of conveying women’s advancement,” Ms. Miura said. “And that doesn’t really empower women at all.”

Ms. Inada was one of three women to assume political leadership positions in Japan last summer, but from the moment she was appointed, critics have questioned her qualifications.

Even in her own Liberal Democratic Party, some lawmakers have asked why a lawyer who had never been a vice minister in either the Defense or Foreign Affairs Ministries would be selected for such a significant post, particularly as tensions in the region escalate, with North Korea developing nuclear missiles and China pushing territorial claims.

At times, the commentary has strayed to her appearance. Observers on social media complained about the casual outfit and oversize sunglasses she wore on a plane to Djibouti in eastern Africa over the summer, when she met with Japanese troops on a counterpiracy mission. On another occasion, after she visited a Japanese naval ship, a popular tabloid magazine disapproved of the high heels she wore.

Japanese peacekeepers in South Sudan in October. Questions about Ms. Inada’s competence have intensified after disclosures that Japan’s army had withheld reports on the activities of its peacekeeping units in the country. CreditCharles Atiki Lomodong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Her biggest opponents argue that while such appraisals are unfortunate, Ms. Inada has shown her lack of qualifications in multiple ways.

“It’s very disappointing that all the attention goes to female politicians’ fashion,” said Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a member of the House of Representatives from the opposition Democratic Party who has been one of Ms. Inada’s harshest critics in Parliament. The real problem, Ms. Tsujimoto said, is that Ms. Inada does not have “confidence and experience and knowledge of the army.”

Ms. Inada once shed tears in parliamentary session under questioning by Ms. Tsujimoto, who had asked whether she had flown to Djibouti to avoid visiting the contentious Yasukuni war shrine on the annual day in August that commemorates the end of World War II.

Questions about Ms. Inada’s competence have intensified since disclosures that the Ground Self-Defense Force, Japan’s army, had withheld reports on the activities of peacekeeping units in South Sudan.

While both Ms. Inada and Mr. Abe had portrayed the operation as safe, the reports, which surfaced in the Japanese news media last month, described several episodes of “combat” between warring factions in South Sudan. The law forbids Japanese troops to participate in missions where active conflict is involved.

In a faxed statement, Ms. Inada said she had not seen the leader of the Moritomo Gakuen group for 10 years. And she said that she had ordered a special investigation into the South Sudan reports. If any problems emerge, she wrote, “ I will try to improve it under the defense minister’s responsibility.”

But analysts say that if army officials or bureaucrats hid the reports from her, that shows her lack of power in the ministry.

“It’s hard to see how she’s going to gain any amount of authority or trust from the public, let alone the people she has authority over,” said Jeffrey Hornung, a fellow in the security and foreign affairs program at Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, a research institute based in Washington.

In Parliament last week, Mr. Abe defended Ms. Inada, saying he wanted her to “continue to perform her duties with sincerity.”

For now, critics say Ms. Inada may survive the scandal.

“If Abe throws her under the bus, he’s likely to get spattered because he’s her career mentor,” said Jeff Kingston, the director of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo. On the other hand, he added, “he needs a scapegoat so he can change the channel.”

Follow Motoko Rich on Twitter @MotokoRich.

Racist Corrupt Japan PM Abe Implicated In Reactionary Private School Scandal
Bigotry and Fraud Scandal at Kindergarten Linked to Japan’s First Lady
FEB. 24, 2017

A morning assembly at the Tsukamoto Kindergarten in Osaka, Japan, in November. Children at the school march to military music and recite instructions for patriotic behavior laid down by a 19th-century emperor.CreditHa Kwiyeon/Reuters
TOKYO — At Tsukamoto Kindergarten, an ultraconservative school at the center of a swirling Japanese political scandal, children receive the sort of education their prewar great-grandparents might have recognized.

They march in crisp rows to military music. They recite instructions for patriotic behavior laid down by a 19th-century emperor. The intent, the school says, is to “nurture patriotism and pride” in the children of Japan, “the purest nation in the world.”

Now Tsukamoto and its traditionalist supporters — including the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — are under fire. The school has been accused of promoting bigotry against Chinese and Koreans and of receiving illicit financial favors from the government.

A growing outcry has put Mr. Abe’s conservative administration on the defensive and drawn attention to the darker side of an increasingly influential right-wing education movement in Japan.

Mr. Abe said on Friday in Parliament that his wife, Akie Abe, had resigned as “honorary principal” of a new elementary school being built by Tsukamoto’s owner.

The school sits on land that the owner, a private foundation, bought from the government at a steep discount — a favorable deal that invited charges of special treatment after details surfaced this month.

“My wife and I are not involved at all in the school’s licensing or land acquisition,” Mr. Abe told the legislature. “If we were, I would resign as a politician.”

Mr. Abe and other Japanese conservatives often accuse the education system of liberal bias, seeing it as a place where left-wing teachers spread “masochistic” narratives about Japanese war guilt and promote individualism and pacifism over sturdier traditional values.

Tsukamoto is at the extreme edge of an effort by rightists to push back, said Manabu Sato, a professor who studies education at Gakushuin University in Tokyo.

“It’s a rejection of the postwar education system, whose basic principles are pacifism and democracy,” Professor Sato said.

Akie Abe, center, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Florida this month with the first lady Melania Trump. Ms. Abe has resigned as “honorary principal” of a new school being built by the owner of Tsukamoto, which has been accused of receiving illicit financial favors from the government.CreditScott McIntyre for The New York Times
At Tsukamoto, displays of old-style patriotism have sometimes shaded into prejudice.

The school apologized on its website last week for statements that contained “expressions that could invite misunderstanding from foreigners.”

Parents said complaints about mundane-seeming matters like parent-teacher association fees would be met with chauvinistic diatribes, with school officials accusing “Koreans and Chinese with evil ideas” of stirring up trouble. They said the school’s principal, Yasunori Kagoike, accused parents who challenged the school of having Korean or Chinese ancestors.

“The problem,” Mr. Kagoike said in one notice sent to parents, was that people who had “inherited the spirit” of foreigners “exist in our country with the looks of Japanese people.”

Mr. Abe has made overhauling Japanese education a priority throughout his career, championing a similar if softer version of the traditionalism practiced at Tsukamoto.

In early publicity pamphlets for its new elementary school obtained by the Japanese news media, Mr. Kagoike proposed naming it after Mr. Abe. Mr. Kagoike later opted for a different name, a change that the prime minister said had been made at his request.

Mr. Abe has supported a drive to amend history textbooks, toning down depictions of Japan’s abuses in its onetime Asian empire, and he passed legislation to make “moral education” — including the promotion of patriotism — a standard part of the public school curriculum.

Tsukamoto has taken the patriotic approach to schooling further.

It first gained notoriety a few years ago for having pupils recite the Imperial Rescript on Education, a royal decree issued in 1890 that served as the basis for Japan’s militaristic prewar school curriculum and that was repudiated after World War II.

Conservatives see the rescript as a paean to traditional values; liberals as a throwback to a more authoritarian era. It encourages students to love their families, to “extend benevolence to all” and to “pursue learning and cultivate arts” — but also to be “good and faithful subjects” of the emperor and to “offer yourselves courageously to the state” when called upon to do so.

In interviews, five mothers who pulled their children out of Tsukamoto said they had encountered chauvinism at the school or had been attacked by Mr. Kagoike or his wife, who serves as vice principal, often in ethnically bigoted terms. They asked for anonymity because they feared social ostracism for speaking out.

One mother said her family liked South Korea and often vacationed there, but that when her son told his teacher of a planned trip, the teacher said that Korea was a “dirty place” and that the family should visit “somewhere better in Japan.”

Another mother said teachers had told her that her son “smelled like a dog,” and that Mr. Kagoike had called her “an anti-Japanese foreigner.” (She is Japanese.)


Mr. Abe, center, has made overhauling Japanese education a priority throughout his career, championing a similar if softer version of the traditionalism practiced at Tsukamoto.CreditKazuhiro Nogi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Attempts to reach Mr. Kagoike failed. A woman who answered the telephone at the foundation that operates Tsukamoto, Moritomo Gakuen, said the Japanese news reports about the school and its land deal had been “unfair,” but she did not elaborate. Multiple follow-up calls went unanswered.

In addition to serving as principal of the kindergarten, Mr. Kagoike heads Moritomo Gakuen and is a director of the Osaka branch of Nippon Kaigi, a prominent right-wing pressure group that includes Mr. Abe and other influential conservative politicians as members.

In a message on Moritomo Gakuen’s website, which the foundation removed on Thursday, Ms. Abe praised it for “nurturing children with strong backbones, who have pride as Japanese, on a basis of superior moral education.”

Japan’s defense minister, Tomomi Inada, has also praised the foundation, sending Mr. Kagoike a formal letter of appreciation for his work.

The land deal that turned Tsukamoto from a subject of raised liberal eyebrows into a full-fledged scandal took place last year, though the details took months to emerge.

The Finance Ministry allowed Moritomo Gakuen to have the land — a two-acre vacant lot near an airport in an Osaka suburb — for 134 million yen, or about $1.18 million, according to government records and testimony by ministry officials in Parliament.

The price, which the ministry initially kept sealed, was surprisingly low. The ministry had previously assessed the land’s value at 956 million yen, seven times higher. In comparison, a neighboring plot only slightly larger was bought by the local municipality, Toyonaka City, for 1.4 billion yen in 2010.

The ministry says it lowered the price to account for cleanup costs that Moritomo Gakuen would have had to bear. It said the lot contained discarded concrete and other refuse as well as elevated levels of arsenic and lead.

Opposition politicians are pressing the ministry to explain its calculations. The national daily Asahi Shimbun, which broke the story, quoted Mr. Kagoike as saying Moritomo Gakuen had spent “about 100 million yen” on cleanup, a fraction of the discount it received.

The new elementary school now sits partially built on the lot.

Eiichi Kajita, the president of Naragakuen University who also was chairman of the licensing council that granted Moritomo Gakuen permission for the school, said the council had not been told about the land deal when it made its deliberations.

He said Moritomo Gakuen’s ideology, which includes an emphasis on Shintoism, Japan’s ancient animist religion, was not a barrier to its opening a school, but that the council was reviewing its decision.

“If there was something inappropriate, permission could be revoked,” he said. “Whether they’re Shintoists or rightists, if parents want that, it’s not our place to object.”

Follow Jonathan Soble on Twitter @jonathan_soble.

Makiko Inoue contributed reporting.

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Lethal levels of radiation detected in leak seven years after plant meltdown in Japan

​The Independent February 2, 2018​

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Lethal levels of radiation detected in leak seven years after plant meltdown in Japan

Expert warns of 'global' consequences unless the plant is treated properly

Jeff Farrell

Workers of theTokyo Electric Power Co, which is tasked with the job to decommission the nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima EPA

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon praises Abe’s nationalist agenda
DEC 17, 2017

Visiting ex-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Sunday lauded Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his Trump-like effort to infuse Japan with a spirit of nationalism while unleashing a volley of scathing criticism against what he called the “mainstream media,” likening them to “running dogs” with a globalist agenda.
Bannon, who was in Tokyo over the weekend to attend a gathering of conservatives, said Japan was on the right track under Abe, whom he called a “Trump before Trump.”
“He talked about a nation’s pride, a nation’s destiny, a nation taking control of its future,” Bannon said when talking about Abe in his speech at the Japanese Conservative Political Action Conference 2017, co-hosted by the Japanese Conservative Union and the American Conservative Union.
As such, Bannon, who is now head of the right-wing news website Breitbart News, credited Abe for trying to “re-instill the spirit of nationalism” and for not shying away from discussing “vital” issues including Japan’s “rearmament.”
“Japan has every opportunity to seize its destiny, to re-establish its national identity (and) in true partnership with the United States, reverse what the elites have allowed to happen,” he said. He added it is not a “full-blown conclusion” yet that Japan has to keep languishing under the shadow of a rising China.
Bannon’s attack on those who he referred to as “elites” and a “nullification project” that he claims is being led by the mainstream media, both overseas and in Japan, was another recurring theme in the blistering speech he delivered Sunday.
“The mainstream media, liberal media, remember, they are the running dogs of the globalist. They are a propaganda machine,” Bannon said, quoting a source in Japan as telling him that the Japanese news coverage of U.S. politics makes it sound as if Trump will be impeached “tomorrow morning.”
“The ‘hobbits,’ ‘deplorables,’ and the forgotten men and women that put him in office in November 2016 will never allow” him to be ousted, Bannon said, as core Trump supporters are often called by their political opponents.
“They will only be there for him to make sure he wins a glorious re-election,” he said, eliciting a burst of applause.
Noting conservatives are hungry for the truth, Bannon also expressed a willingness for Breitbart News to make forays into Asia, signaling the possibility offices headquartered in Tokyo or Seoul might be created.
“As long as we provide a platform to get alternatives to what the mainstream is saying, we’re gonna be fine,” he said.
On trade, Bannon backed Trump’s controversial decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, even though withdrawing from the multinational deal amounted to the U.S. essentially spoiling what would have been a perfect “China-containing project,” as freelance journalist Taro Kimura put it during his joint appearance with Bannon.
In response, Bannon called the TPP an “ill-defined, generalized” agreement that the U.S. cannot get into anymore, and clarified Trump’s “America First” slogan as meaning an “America in partnership.”
“If the Japanese intelligentsia is sitting around and waiting for us to re-hit the bid on TPP, it’s not going to happen.”
Referring to joint military exercise between the U.S. Navy and the Self-Defense Forces, Bannon said “there is not a finer group of people” than the SDF.
“If we come together as friends and partners, (sunlight) opens up ahead of us,” he said, referring to U.S. allies in Asia, including Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore.

An Important Statue for “Comfort Women” in San Francisco

By Sally McGrane
12:50 P.M.

Though completed, San Francisco’s memorial to those imprisoned as sex slaves by Japan during the Second World War faces ongoing challenges.Photograph by Ma Dan / Xinhua / Alamy
At the back of St. Mary’s Square in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the retired judge Lillian Sing—who, long a trailblazer, was Northern California’s first Asian-American female judge—unlocked a temporary plywood gate. Behind the gate, in the corner of a terrace, stood a week-old memorial. Against the backdrop of city skyscrapers, three teen-age girls, cast in bronze, stand in a circle, holding hands. Next to them, looking on, stands the figure of an elderly woman in Korean dress—Kim Hak-sun, the first so-called comfort woman to speak out, in 1991, about her horrific sexual enslavement, during the Second World War, by the Imperial Japanese Army.

Sing had come to the park that day with Julie Tang, another retired judge and her co-chair in the project to create the memorial. “What they did was so brave,” Tang said, as she gazed up at the three girls. Chinese, Korean, and Filipino, they represent the estimated two hundred thousand women from countries across East and Southeast Asia occupied by Japan who were held in brutal state-run rape camps—a crime that went largely unacknowledged until the nineties. That was when Kim’s declaration inspired surviving comfort women in Korea, China, and elsewhere to come forward with their stories. Tang shook her head. “They were silent for fifty years, holding this shame inside them,” she said. “Victims think they are to blame. They think they did it to themselves.” With this statue—the first to be erected in a major U.S. city, though smaller memorials to comfort women exist in places like Glendale, California, and Palisades Park, New Jersey—Tang, Sing, and the local coalition they assembled want to change that kind of thinking. By bringing attention to the comfort women’s history, they hope to draw attention to ongoing problems of human trafficking and sex crimes.

This may not be as self-evident as it sounds. Discussing the statue, Dara Kay Cohen, a professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard, said, “As a scholar of wartime rape, I think it is extraordinary.” Cohen has interviewed women captured as sex slaves in Sierra Leone; she found their stories of being raped dozens of times a day by fighters, even when the women were sick, “eerily similar” to those of the comfort women. “Publicly memorializing the rape of women is rare,” she said. “Women are half of humanity,” Elaine Kim, a professor of Asian-American and Asian-diaspora studies at U.C. Berkeley, and a supporter of the statue (whose unveiling brings the total number of public statues in San Francisco of real women to three), said. “And women are not represented in history. Nothing will be done about crimes like these if they remain in the shadows.”

The Japanese Army’s “comfort stations,” initiated in the early nineteen-thirties, were expanded extensively following the Nanjing massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, in 1937. According to a paper by the Yale political-science professor Elisabeth Jean Wood, the stated goal of the comfort stations was to reduce random civilian rapes. Girls were seized from the local populations. Conditions were brutal, and death rates were high. “In one day, we had to serve forty to fifty soldiers,” Lee Ok-seon, a Korean survivor, who was kidnapped at the age of fifteen, recalled in video testimony. Girls who refused were lined up against the wall and slashed open with knives. “I don’t call it a ‘comfort station.’ I call it a slaughterhouse,” Lee said. Jan Ruff-O’Herne, a Dutch girl, was taken from the Indonesian prisoner-of-war camp where she was living with her family. In a television interview, she recalled arriving at the comfort station: “We started protesting right away. We said we were forced into this, they had no right to do this, it was against the Geneva Convention. And they just laughed at us. They said they could do with us what they liked.”

After the war, survivors risked rejection by their families. Ill and impoverished, many never married or had families of their own. Ruff-O’Herne had two daughters, but did not tell them what happened to her. “You know, how can you tell your daughters?” she said in the same interview. “All these years, I was too ashamed. You think, What will they think of me?” But, after seeing Kim Hak-sun and others come forward and struggle to have their stories heard, Ruff-O’Herne decided that she had to help by speaking up. (Her daughters hugged her.)

The former congressman Mike Honda told me that, in addition to the stigma faced by victims of sexual crimes, the Japanese government’s stance on the issue has been a problem. He said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “flip-flops”: “He says, ‘We’re really sorry,’ then, ‘It never happened.’ He’s all over the field.” Honda, who spent his own early years in a Japanese-American internment camp, said that he first heard of the comfort women in the nineties, after an aide returned from an exhibition visibly upset. Honda became determined to learn more. “We know a lot about what happened in the war in Europe, but not a lot about what happened in Asia,” he said.

After he researched the comfort women, he decided to act. “For me, as a Japanese-American, there was a parallel,” he said. “We fought to have the U.S. government apologize to us. Now we have to get the Japanese government to recognize the historical facts.” In 2007, Honda brought survivors—including Ruff-O’Herne—to testify before Congress, and successfully pushed through legislation demanding that the Japanese government apologize. “Telling the story of the comfort women to the public is powerful,” Honda said. “The statue is a physical representation of something that happened in the past that needs to be learned about, in order to prevent violence against women and end human trafficking—which is a one-hundred-and-fifty-billion-dollar industry.”

Steven Whyte, the Carmel-based artist who created San Francisco’s memorial, had a similar learning curve. “I was familiar with the term ‘comfort women,’ but I didn’t realize the extent of the torture,” he said. Once he saw the call for applications, he researched the topic, and wanted the job so much that he reduced his regular prices. “You think of every girl you’ve ever known—your nieces, your daughters, your girlfriends, everything. It’s desperately upsetting.”

While most of the comfort-women statues around the world have been put up by South Koreans or members of the Korean diaspora, the push for this statue was led by San Francisco’s Chinese-American community, with support from several other groups, including members of the Japanese-, Filipino-, Korean-, and Jewish-American communities, Eric Mar, who served as the city supervisor during the planning-and-design process and championed the project, said. “I thought, to be successful, we had to build a pan-Asian coalition,” he explained. Mentioning his own teen-age daughter, Mar began to weep. “It’s very emotional, for a lot of people.”

At the cavernous Cathay House restaurant, just up the street from St. Mary’s Square, Sing and Tang were joined by Judith Mirkinson, the president of the board of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition. Over hot toddies and Chinese chicken salad, the women talked about the challenges they faced in bringing the statue into being—including local Japanese-Americans who say they worry that the statue could give rise to a new wave of discrimination, and a vigorous campaign of condemnation from the Japanese government. Whyte received some twelve hundred negative social-media messages and e-mails, including form letters copied and pasted from a Japanese Web site threatening economic boycotts of his work. Activists attended hearings about the statue and called an elderly survivor a prostitute when she testified before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. More recently, the mayor of Osaka threatened to end his city’s long-standing sister-city relationship with San Francisco if the statue is not removed—and the Japanese consul-general in San Francisco, Jun Yamada, wrote a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle calling the statue a “half-told” story, and warning that if the city wants to “give equal treatment to all cases, there will be no free space left anywhere.”

Those spearheading the memorial fear that pressures like these may delay the bureaucratic procedures that still need to take place before the plywood gate comes down and the statue is visible to the public. At lunch, Sing said that she felt that racism in the United States had played a silencing role when it comes to recognizing what happened to the comfort women. “Why did this take so long?” she said. Kim Hak-sun “spoke out in 1991. There is the race issue: Asian women’s lives didn’t matter, like black men’s lives don’t matter.” Still, the three women agreed that it is no accident that this statue is here. “Even if San Francisco is changing, progressivism is still woven into the fabric of this city,” Mirkinson said. “And we are on the Pacific Rim,” Tang said. “We are closer to Asia, and thirty-three per cent of the city is Asian. People bring with them family memory that goes back to World War Two.”

For Lee Yong-soo, an eighty-nine-year-old survivor who flew from Korea for the unveiling, San Francisco seemed dauntingly far away. But when she arrived she was glad she had made the journey. “When I saw the girls holding hands, it brought tears in my eyes because she looked just like the girl I once was,” Lee wrote in an e-mail. “We need more memorials to remember the truth. I am the living proof of the history. But when I’m gone, who will tell the story to the next generation?”
Added to the calendar on Monday Feb 12th, 2018 12:45 PM
§Japan Akie Shinzo With Her Husband Supports Trump's War Drive In Asia
by United Public Workers For Action Monday Feb 12th, 2018 12:45 PM
Akie Abe and her husband Shinzo visited Trump in Florida and supported the US war drive in Asia. He is also pushing for changing the Japanese constitution to to allow for first strike and joint war adventures with the US.
Akie is also supporting privatization of education and a racist nationalist school that attacks the people of Korea and China with racist ideology. The school also pushes "denialist" theory that there was no such thing as 'comfort women' or military sexual slaves by the Japanese Imperial Military
§Akie Supports Nationalist Racist Schools That Support Japanese Superiority
by United Public Workers For Action Monday Feb 12th, 2018 12:45 PM
Akie is supporting racists national schools that push Japanese superiority and also is involved in a corruption scandal illegally using public funds to subsidize her reactionary school where she was the "honorary" principal.

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Japan Abe calls Asahi report ‘pathetic,’ draws criticism from opposition over private school corruption scandal
"Opposition party members have criticized the prime minister for failing to address what they considered more significant points related to the sale of the state-owned land.
They have suggested that the discount was offered mainly because of Moritomo Gakuen’s connections to Abe’s wife, Akie, who had been named honorary principal of the planned elementary school."
February 14, 2018 at 14:40 JST
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continued to criticize The Asahi Shimbun over its coverage of a dubious sale of state-owned land, while opposition party members blasted him for evading more pertinent points in the scandal.

The scandal, which has dominated discussions in the Diet, centers around the huge discount that school operator Moritomo Gakuen received in 2016 to buy state-owned land for the construction of a private elementary school.

During the Diet debate, the prime minister has repeatedly criticized an Asahi report printed last year that said Moritomo Gakuen at one time planned to name the school the “Shinzo Abe commemorative elementary school.”

In response to Abe’s criticism, the Asahi in its Feb. 6 edition published a long article that explained the background to its earlier stories about the sale to Moritomo Gakuen.

An Upper House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party touched upon the Asahi article on his Facebook account that day.

Later, an entry appeared from Abe’s Facebook account, which said about the Feb. 6 article: “It is pathetic. A deplorable excuse typical of Asahi. It was as I expected.”

In the Feb. 13 Lower House Budget Committee, Masato Imai of the opposition Kibo no To (Hope) asked Abe if he himself posted the entry to his Facebook account.

“I wrote it,” Abe replied.

Opposition party members have criticized the prime minister for failing to address what they considered more significant points related to the sale of the state-owned land.

They have suggested that the discount was offered mainly because of Moritomo Gakuen’s connections to Abe’s wife, Akie, who had been named honorary principal of the planned elementary school.

Imai, for example, said Nobuhisa Sagawa, then director-general of the Finance Ministry's Financial Bureau, made “falsehoods” in the Diet last year when he was responding to questions about discussions between Moritomo Gakuen and ministry officials over the land deal.

Sagawa said all documents related to the discussions had been discarded.

But the Finance Ministry in recent days has released documents related to the negotiations between ministry officials and Moritomo Gakuen.

“I do not think it is fair to simply ignore such developments,” Imai said.

In its Feb. 6 article, the Asahi explained that it ran an interview with Yasunori Kagoike, the former head of Moritomo Gakuen, in May 2017 following the release of a document by the Finance Ministry. That paper explained Moritomo Gakuen’s intent to establish the elementary school, but much of the document, including its title, were blacked out.

Six months after the interview article, the ministry finally released the document with the title indicating the planned school would be called Kaisei elementary school.

The Asahi published an article the following day reporting on the name of the elementary school as well as its past coverage.

Other opposition parties criticized Abe for continuing to target the Asahi.

“It is in extremely bad taste for the prime minister to call out the name of a specific newspaper for criticism,” Akira Koike, head of the Central Committee secretariat for the Japanese Communist Party, said at a Feb. 13 news conference.

Seiji Mataichi, secretary-general of the Social Democratic Party, said about Abe, “His method concerning the mass media is to use those that are ‘convenient’ and to attack those that are not.”

The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth
CreditRobert G. Fresson

WASHINGTON — In 1942, a lieutenant paymaster in Japan’s Imperial Navy named Yasuhiro Nakasone was stationed at Balikpapan on the island of Borneo, assigned to oversee the construction of an airfield. But he found that sexual misconduct, gambling and fighting were so prevalent among his men that the work was stalled.

Lieutenant Nakasone’s solution was to organize a military brothel, or “comfort station.” The young officer’s success in procuring four Indonesian women “mitigated the mood” of his troops so well that he was commended in a naval report.

Lieutenant Nakasone’s decision to provide comfort women to his troops was replicated by thousands of Imperial Japanese Army and Navy officers across the Indo-Pacific both before and during World War II, as a matter of policy. From Nauru to Vietnam, from Burma to Timor, women were treated as the first reward of conquest.

We know of Lieutenant Nakasone’s role in setting up a comfort station thanks to his 1978 memoir, “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23.” At that time, such accounts were relatively commonplace and uncontroversial — and no obstacle to a political career. From 1982 to 1987, Mr. Nakasone was the prime minister of Japan.

Today, however, the Japanese military’s involvement in comfort stations is bitterly contested. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is engaged in an all-out effort to portray the historical record as a tissue of lies designed to discredit the nation. Mr. Abe’s administration denies that imperial Japan ran a system of human trafficking and coerced prostitution, implying that comfort women were simply camp-following prostitutes.

The latest move came at the end of October when, with no intended irony, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party appointed Mr. Nakasone’s own son, former Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, to chair a commission established to “consider concrete measures to restore Japan’s honor with regard to the comfort women issue.”

The official narrative in Japan is fast becoming detached from reality, as it seeks to cast the Japanese people — rather than the comfort women of the Asia-Pacific theater — as the victims of this story. The Abe administration sees this historical revision as integral to restoring Japan’s imperial wartime honor and modern-day national pride. But the broader effect of the campaign has been to cause Japan to back away from international efforts against human rights abuses and to weaken its desire to be seen as a responsible partner in prosecuting possible war crimes.

A key objective of Mr. Abe’s government has been to dilute the 1993 Kono Statement, named for Japan’s chief cabinet secretary at the time, Yohei Kono. This was widely understood as the Japanese government’s formal apology for the wartime network of brothels and front-line encampments that provided sex for the military and its contractors. The statement was particularly welcomed in South Korea, which was annexed by Japan from 1910 to 1945 and was the source of a majority of the trafficked comfort women.

Continue reading the main story
Imperial Japan’s military authorities believed sex was good for morale, and military administration helped control sexually transmitted diseases. Both the army and navy trafficked women, provided medical inspections, established fees and built facilities. Nobutaka Shikanai, later chairman of the Fujisankei Communications Group, learned in his Imperial Army accountancy class how to manage comfort stations, including how to determine the actuarial “durability or perishability of the women procured.”

Japan’s current government has made no secret of its distaste for the Kono Statement. During Mr. Abe’s first administration, in 2007, the cabinet undermined the Kono Statement with two declarations: that there was no documentary evidence of coercion in the acquisition of women for the military’s comfort stations, and that the statement was not binding government policy.

Shortly before he became prime minister for the second time, in 2012, Mr. Abe (together with, among others, four future cabinet members) signed an advertisement in a New Jersey newspaper protesting a memorial to the comfort women erected in the town of Palisades Park, N.J., where there is a large Korean population. The ad argued that comfort women were simply part of the licensed prostitution system of the day.

In June this year, the government published a review of the Kono Statement. This found that Korean diplomats were involved in drafting the statement, that it relied on the unverified testimonies of 16 Korean former comfort women, and that no documents then available showed that abductions had been committed by Japanese officials.

Then, in August, a prominent liberal newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun, admitted that a series of stories it wrote over 20 years ago on comfort women contained errors. Reporters had relied upon testimony by a labor recruiter, Seiji Yoshida, who claimed to have rounded up Korean women on Jeju Island for military brothels overseas.

The scholarly community had long determined that Mr. Yoshida’s claims were fictitious, but Mr. Abe seized on this retraction by The Asahi to denounce the “baseless, slanderous claims” of sexual slavery, in an attempt to negate the entire voluminous and compelling history of comfort women. In October, Mr. Abe directed his government to “step up a strategic campaign of international opinion so that Japan can receive a fair appraisal based on matters of objective fact.”

Two weeks later, Japan’s ambassador for human rights, Kuni Sato, was sent to New York to ask a former United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women, Radhika Coomaraswamy, to reconsider her 1996 report on the comfort women — an authoritative account of how, during World War II, imperial Japan forced women and girls into sexual slavery. Ms. Coomaraswamy refused, observing that one retraction did not overturn her findings, which were based on ample documents and myriad testimonies of victims throughout Japanese-occupied territories.

There were many ways in which women and girls throughout the Indo-Pacific became entangled in the comfort system, and the victims came from virtually every settlement, plantation and territory occupied by imperial Japan’s military. The accounts of rape and pillage leading to subjugation are strikingly similar whether they are told by Andaman Islanders or Singaporeans, Filipino peasants or Borneo tribespeople. In some cases, young men, including interned Dutch boys, were also seized to satisfy the proclivities of Japanese soldiers.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
Japanese soldiers raped an American nurse at Bataan General Hospital 2 in the Philippine Islands; other prisoners of war acted to protect her by shaving her head and dressing her as a man. Interned Dutch mothers traded their bodies in a church at a convent on Java to feed their children. British and Australian women who were shipwrecked off Sumatra after the makeshift hospital ship Vyner Brooke was bombed were given the choice between a brothel or starving in a P.O.W. camp. Ms. Coomaraswamy noted in her 1996 report that “the consistency of the accounts of women from quite different parts of Southeast Asia of the manner in which they were recruited and the clear involvement of the military and government at different levels is indisputable.”

For its own political reasons, the Abe administration studiously ignores this wider historical record, and focuses instead on disputing Japan’s treatment of its colonial Korean women. Thus rebuffed by Ms. Coomaraswamy, the chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, vowed to continue advocating in international bodies, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, for Japan’s case, which is to seek to remove the designation of comfort women as sex slaves.

The grave truth about the Abe administration’s denialist obsession is that it has led Japan not only to question Ms. Coomaraswamy’s report, but also to challenge the United Nations’ reporting on more recent and unrelated war crimes, and to dismiss the testimony of their victims. In March, Japan became the only Group of 7 country to withhold support from a United Nations investigation into possible war crimes in Sri Lanka, when it abstained from voting to authorize the inquiry. (Canada is not a member of the Human Rights Council but issued a statement backing the probe.) During an official visit, the parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs, Seiji Kihara, told Sri Lanka’s president, “We are not ready to accept biased reports prepared by international bodies.”

Rape and sex trafficking in wartime remain problems worldwide. If we hope to ever reduce these abuses, the efforts of the Abe administration to deny history cannot go unchallenged. The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — all of whom had nationals entrapped in imperial Japan’s comfort women system — must make clear their objection to the Abe government’s perverse denial of the historical record of human trafficking and sexual servitude.

The United States, in particular, has a responsibility to remind Japan, its ally, that human rights and women’s rights are pillars of American foreign policy. If we do not speak out, we will be complicit not only in Japanese denialism, but also in undermining today’s international efforts to end war crimes involving sexual violence.

Mindy Kotler is the director of Asia Policy Point, a nonprofit research center.

Japan Moritomo Gakuen scandal another history Japan’s nationalists may wish to rewrite and deregulaton of education
MAR 26, 2017
OSAKA – It began as a dream. Conservatives and nationalists, angry at what they saw as a public education system that taught a self-denigrating, incorrect view of Japan’s 20th century history and upset at social changes they felt had led to a loss of respect among children for Japan’s traditional values and norms, would create a private elementary school in Osaka tailored to their beliefs.

Now, however, the opening of educational entity Moritomo Gakuen’s new Mizuho no Kuni elementary school (almost named Shinzo Abe Elementary School), scheduled for April 1, has been postponed indefinitely.

It was revealed in February that the government land purchased for the school had been heavily discounted in a shady deal. That scandal led to revelations of Moritomo Gakuen’s links to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie, and Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, as well as to allegations so far unproven beyond a reasonable doubt by the entity’s chief Yasunori Kagoike that the new school received, via Akie Abe, a ¥1 million donation from the prime minister himself.

Kagoike gave sworn Diet testimony last week, where he repeated his assertions about Akie Abe, suggested Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui betrayed him by blocking approval of his new school, and said that three Osaka-based Diet members were involved. This has raised the stakes and national media attention, ensuring the scandal won’t go away.

As forceful as Kagoike’s allegations have been, the denials from those named as of late last week have been equally forceful.

After saying she could not remember, Akie posted a strong denial on social media that she’d handed over ¥1 million. Same with the three politicians named by Kagoike.

Nippon Ishin’s Toru Azuma of the Upper House denied doing anything on Kagoike’s behalf. Fellow councilor Takuji Yanagimoto of the Liberal Democratic Party said his office did little more than provide an introduction to officials over the phone. Former LDP lawmaker Issei Kitagawa said he’d never met Kagoike or even heard of him until the scandal broke.

In Osaka, attention has shifted to what Osaka Gov. Matsui, a close Abe ally despite heading the nominal opposition party Nippon Ishin no Kai, knew about the land deal and when he knew it. This has raised still unanswered questions about what the political and financial relationship other conservative groups and individuals might have had with Abe, Matsui and Moritomo Gakuen.

The scandal also has Osaka prefectural officials in charge of private school applications and central government officials at the Kinki Regional Finance Bureau blaming each other over who is responsible for selling Moritomo a hunk of land valued at ¥956 million for only ¥134 million. Earlier this month, a delegation of ruling bloc and opposition Diet members visited Osaka to try to determine how the deal came about but were told the prefecture had not kept detailed records.

What they did learn was that in summer 2011, the entity had asked the Osaka Prefectural Government to relax the restrictions on setting up private schools. The request was granted in April 2012, just a few months after Toru Hashimoto stepped down as governor and became Osaka mayor, and his ally, Matsui, became governor.

In September 2013, Moritomo told the Kinki Regional Finance Bureau, part of the Finance Ministry, that it was interested in acquiring government-owned property in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, for its new elementary school. Negotiations began, with the finance bureau indicating Moritomo could reply about its interest if the project was approved. The prefecture, however, said that without land and a building, approval to operate could not be granted.

That October, the prefecture phoned the finance bureau to ask about progress and was told the bureau was relying on Moritomo to provide detailed documentation of its plans. A month later, the bureau said it told the prefecture that, once a final decision about the project was made, it would reply about whether it would negotiate the land deal.

Afterward, there was a long waiting period and the details are not clear. In October 2014, Moritomo submitted an application to have the elementary school approved by the prefecture. In December, the prefecture told Moritomo it was still discussing the matter. But in January 2015, the private-school section replied that authorization was considered “appropriate.”

In May 2015, a 10-year rental lease for the property was drawn up. But the following month, after deducting ¥800 million as the cost of removing garbage on the site, Moritomo was able to buy land originally valued at ¥956 million for only ¥134 million.

But official records of the negotiating process, especially from 2013 to 2014, do not exist, prefectural officials told the Diet delegation. The chronology they were presented with was based on interviews with officials who were in charge at the time.

“Notes were not taken and negotiations were done over the telephone. Preparing documents (of the negotiations) would leave a huge volume of paperwork,” Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui said.

The governor denied any suggestion he intervened with prefectural officials on Moritomo’s behalf.

“If I ordered preferential treatment to be given to Moritomo, I’ll resign,” Matsui said.

For his part, former Osaka Mayor and Ishin co-founder Hashimoto, who had been governor in 2011 when the entity originally asked for the rules regarding new private schools to be relaxed, blamed his lack of attention to the details of deregulation for the problem.

“It was my mistake. When I was governor, I had to make deregulation of private school regulations and the strengthening of the system of prefectural checks for private school applications part of a set. There were voices of concern about Moritomo’s finances. The prefecture appeared to confirm they were OK and this led to approval with certain conditions. But the origin of the problem is that my efforts to strengthen the prefecture’s system of checking on private school applications was insufficient,” Hashimoto said on his Twitter account and on television last week.

The mea culpa did little, however, to negate suspicion that the good deal Moritomo received had something to do with gubernatorial successor Matsui’s cozy relations with Abe. Both men share similar views on perceptions of history and education.

As do many of the groups in Osaka that support Nippon Ishin. One that has come under the spotlight is the conservative Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi), which also advocates nationalist causes.

In a statement earlier this month, the group said Kagoike had once been a member but left in 2011. In an online interview published last week in Shukan Asahi, Japan Conference Chairman Tadae Takubo said his organization had no connection with Kagoike.

But Hashimoto said that while everybody who once supported, directly or indirectly, Moritomo and Kagoike may now be reluctant to admit it, the school’s nationalist educational philosophy enjoys a lot of support among prominent people.

“I wouldn’t make my own kids recite the Meiji Imperial Rescript on Education like Moritomo was doing. But from what I’ve seen and heard, the school taught respect and courtesy. Without a doubt, a lot of politicians, including within the LDP and even Nippon Ishin, supported the school’s educational philosophy. Therefore, a lot of prefectural officials took notice,” Hashimoto said.

Kansai Perspective appears on the fourth Monday of each month, focusing on Kansai-area developments and events of national importance with a Kansai connection.

Japan’s Leader Hurt by New Disclosures Over Ties to Right-Wing Education Group
MARCH 16, 2017

Yasunori Kagoike, the administrator of Moritomo Gakuen, spoke to the media in Osaka prefecture, Japan, last week. CreditKyodo, via Reuters
TOKYO — The leader of a scandal-tainted Japanese education group known for extreme right-wing views said Thursday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abehad donated money to it in 2015, a claim that directly contradicted accounts by Mr. Abe.

The assertion, if true, has the potential to inflict significant political damage on Mr. Abe. The group’s leader, Yasunori Kagoike, did not immediately offer evidence to back up his claim.

Accusations that Mr. Kagoike received improper financial favors from the government have escalated into a scandal that has dominated headlines in Japan and hurt Mr. Abe’s approval ratings.

Network news crews followed a group of parliamentarians to Mr. Kagoike’s home in Osaka in Thursday, broadcasting live as the lawmakers waited to question him.

Mr. Kagoike’s extreme views have become a contentious issue in Japan, partly because of his links to prominent political figures. A kindergarten operated by his group seeks to promote “patriotism and pride” by reviving elements of Japan’s militaristic prewar education system. He has been accused of making derogatory statements about Chinese and Koreans.

His political connections took on a newly troubling dimension after it emerged last month that officials had allowed Mr. Kagoike’ group, Moritomo Gakuen, to buy government-owned land at a discount. The land was to be used for an elementary school, for which Moritomo Gakuen has been soliciting funds and drawing encouragement from the right.

Mr. Abe’s wife, Akie, has been a prominent supporter, serving until recently as “honorary principal” of the planned school. She resigned the position last month amid the escalating furor.

But Mr. Abe has denied that he had direct personal links to the group.

“He did not donate money, or donate through Akie or his office or any third party,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government spokesman, said on Thursday after Mr. Kagoike made his assertion.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in Tokyo on Thursday. Accusations that Mr. Kagoike received improper financial favors from the government have mushroomed into a scandal that has dominated headlines in Japan and dragged down Mr. Abe’s approval ratings. CreditToru Hanai/Reuters
Previously Mr. Abe had said he would quit politics if he or his wife were found to have influenced official dealings with Moritomo Gakuen.

Atsuo Ito, a political analyst, said that while a donation by Mr. Abe of his own money would have been legal, it would be “an ethical problem” for him, because “it could mean his statements until now have been lies, which would be a big incident that would shake the government.”

Mr. Kagoike said he recalled having receiving donations in September 2015 “including money donated by Abe.”

He did not elaborate but said he would provide more information to Parliament. Mr. Abe’s party, the Liberal Democrats, had resisted opposition demands to call Mr. Kagoike to testify, but relented on Thursday after Mr. Kagoike’s remarks, according to NHK, the national broadcaster. Mr. Kagoike will testify on March 23, NHK said.

In Mr. Kagoike’s meeting with the lawmakers in Osaka on Thursday, he elaborated somewhat, members of the parliamentary group said afterward. Mr. Kagoike told them he had received 1 million yen from Mrs. Abe when she gave a speech at the kindergarten in September 2015, they said. The lawmakers also quoted him as saying he believed some of the money had come from the prime minister.

Mr. Abe’s defense minister, Tomomi Inada, has also been embroiled in the scandal. A former lawyer, she helped defend Moritomo Gakuen in a lawsuit in 2004, but under questioning in Parliament she initially denied working for the group. She retracted that statement this week and apologized, saying she had forgotten, but opposition parties have demanded that she resign.

Officials in Osaka prefecture said this week they were considering filing a criminal complaint against Moritomo Gakuen over irregularities in the school’s licensing application.

In early publicity materials for the new school, Mr. Kagoike proposed naming it after Mr. Abe, a champion of conservative causes who has driven changes to Japan’s school system, including revisions in history textbooks to soften depictions of Japan’s wartime atrocities in its former Asian empire.

The Finance Ministry allowed Moritomo Gakuen to acquire the land — a two-acre vacant lot near an airport in an Osaka suburb — for 134 million yen, or about $1.17 million, one-seventh its assessed value. Additional subsides for clearing landfill reduced Moritomo’s outlay to next to nothing.

Makiko Inoue contributed reporting.

Reactionary Corrupt Japan PM Abe denies allegations in scandal-hit school chief's sworn testimony
Abe denies allegations in scandal-hit school chief's sworn testimony

March 24, 2017 (Mainichi Japan)

Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is pictured on March 22, 2016. (Mainichi)
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied Friday that he or his wife Akie gave money or favorable treatment to an Osaka school operator at the center of a growing political scandal as alleged the previous day by the chief of the organization in sworn testimony before the Diet.

Opposition lawmakers argued that further investigation is needed into whether a government aide to Akie Abe was involved in the sale of a heavily discounted piece of state-owned land last year to the school operator, Moritomo Gakuen, which recently dropped its plan to open an elementary school on the site.

Yasunori Kagoike, head of Moritomo Gakuen, had produced under oath in the upper and lower house budget committees Thursday a document purporting to show that Akie Abe's aide, Saeko Tani, made inquiries to the Finance Ministry about the plot of land in 2015 at his behest.

Kagoike also repeated his claim that Akie Abe gave him a donation of 1 million yen ($8,900) on the prime minister's behalf for the purposes of building the elementary school.

Diet affairs chiefs from the Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party, Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party agreed Friday to seek the summoning of Akie Abe and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui as further sworn witnesses.

But this would require the agreement of ruling coalition lawmakers, something the Abe administration's top spokesman seemed to dismiss Friday.

"The prime minister is explaining (the situation) carefully," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference when asked about the oppositions' plan.

Standing in the same room where Kagoike gave part of his testimony Thursday, Abe maintained on Friday that the content of the testimony had "made clear that there was no specific involvement by politicians in the sale of the state land or the accreditation of the elementary school."

The prime minister's office admitted Thursday that Tani had contacted the Finance Ministry for Kagoike about the plot of land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, which Moritomo Gakuen was leasing from the state at the time.

"The inquiry was asking what would happen (to the land lease) institutionally and legally, and there was no request, lobbying or of course any inappropriate press," Abe insisted at a session of the upper house budget committee Friday.

"It's extremely regrettable that (Kagoike) has made statements that go against the truth by reeling off a bunch of things that cannot be verified, such as the 1 million yen issue and talk of backroom dealings," he said.

Abe continued to insist Friday that neither he nor his wife had any involvement in subsequent negotiations that ended with the stridently nationalist school operator buying the government land for 134 million yen -- just 14 percent of its appraised value.

The price was lowered supposedly to account for the costs of removing buried garbage, but the murky deal, the school's unusual acquisition of provisional accreditation from Osaka Prefecture, and past links between Kagoike and the Abes have fueled public scrutiny of the matter and eroded approval ratings for the Abe Cabinet.

Akie Abe refuted Kagoike's testimony, including the donation claim, in a post on her personal Facebook page Thursday night.

The prime minister's wife has documented links with Kagoike.

She was until recently named the honorary principal of the planned elementary school, and gave speeches at a Moritomo Gakuen kindergarten that was probed for suspected hate speech after parents of pupils were given pamphlets denigrating Chinese and Koreans.

Kagoike testified Thursday that a recent exchange of emails with Akie Abe via his wife, Junko Kagoike, could be interpreted as an attempt to silence him. The prime minister on Friday called this claim "malicious."

Abe also expressed disappointment that Kagoike had not explained why the school gave three different amounts for construction costs on contracts it submitted to prefectural authorities and others.

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Friday played down her connection with Kagoike and also denied any involvement of her husband, who had been hired by Moritomo Gakuen as a lawyer, in the land purchase deal.

"I may have met Mr. Kagoike when he came to meet my husband at (our) office, but, anyway, we're talking about something more than 10 years before -- before I lost access with Mr. Kagoike," she said in a statement released Friday.

Kagoike testified the day prior that Inada was among the lawyers who dealt with him at the office when her husband signed a contract to become a legal adviser for the school operator.

Inada reiterated that she has never been a legal adviser for Moritomo Gakuen and it was only her husband Ryuji Inada who had performed the role. Even the contract between her husband and the school operator ended around August 2009, she said.

Kagoike insisted Thursday that he sought advice from Ryuji Inada in January 2016 about the land, but Inada said her husband has denied being asked for consultations over the deal.

Inada initially denied her links to the operator but admitted last week that she represented Moritomo Gakuen as a lawyer at a civil case hearing in December 2004 before she became a lawmaker.

Ex-chief of Japanese scandal-hit nationalist school operator quizzed over illegal subsidy fraud

Ex-chief of scandal-hit school operator quizzed over subsidy fraud
July 28, 2017 (Mainichi Japan)
Yasunori Kagoike (Mainichi)

Junko Kagoike (Mainichi)
OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Prosecutors questioned the former chief of a scandal-mired nationalist school operator and his wife on Thursday in connection with the alleged receipt of fraudulent public subsidies for their businesses.

The criminal investigation into Yasunori Kagoike, 64, former chief of Moritomo Gakuen, and his wife Junko, 60, who served as a senior official of schools run by the operator, followed a controversial sale of public land that embroiled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose wife Akie was named honorary principal of the school planned for the site.

After the questioning at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, which lasted around three hours, the Kagoikes declined to make any comment to reporters and hastily left for home.

Later Thursday, Kagoike told reporters that he "remained mostly silent" during the questioning.

Kagoike drew attention for securing a huge discount for the purchase of the state-owned land in Osaka for the construction of an elementary school. Akie Abe was named honorary principal of the planned school but resigned after the deal was revealed.

The office's special investigation squad brought the couple in on Thursday after it received a complaint in March that the school operator unlawfully received state subsidies worth about 56 million yen ($505,000) related to the construction of the elementary school in the city of Toyonaka.

The school was scheduled to open in April, but Moritomo Gakuen gave up following the scandal and Kagoike stepped down as head of the school operator in March.

Kagoike also faces another criminal complaint filed in May that he swindled around 62 million yen in subsidies between fiscal 2011 and 2016 from Osaka Prefecture for a kindergarten in the city of Osaka. In June, the prosecutors raided sites linked with Moritomo Gakuen.

In applying for state subsidies for the elementary school construction, Moritomo Gakuen submitted a document showing building costs totaled around 2.38 billion yen. But the operator is suspected of having padded the costs to obtain increased subsidies, investigative sources said.

The office also intends to build cases over the two allegations, believing that Kagoike initiated the actions, according to the sources.

The Osaka prefectural government has also said the school operator illegally received the subsidies for its Tsukamoto kindergarten by making false reports about teachers' working conditions and pupils requiring special assistance due to disabilities and other reasons.

Regarding the controversial land deal, Moritomo Gakuen was found to have acquired the 8,770-square-meter plot in June last year for 134 million yen, roughly 14 percent of its appraisal value, following negotiations with the Finance Ministry's local bureau.

The prosecutors have accepted a criminal complaint against senior officials of the ministry's Kinki bureau for breach of trust over the land deal, which came to light in February.

Meanwhile, the mother of a former pupil at Tsukamoto kindergarten has lodged a damages suit against Kagoike, seeking about 1.65 million yen for mental anguish. The plaintiff claims her child was forced out of the kindergarten after she refused to join the school's parent-teacher association.

During the first in-person pleading at the Osaka District Court on Thursday, Kagoike's representative demanded the suit be dropped, saying, "Participation in the PTA was not mandatory and the school did not tell the pupil to leave."

According to the suit, the mother refused to join the PTA as long as details of its financial reports remained undisclosed. In April 2016, when Kagoike headed the facility, she was notified that her child should leave the kindergarten because her participation in the association was compulsory.