TOKYO AFP March23, 2017-
A controversial nationalist educator said under oath Thursday he had received a donation for his school from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe despite the premier’s repeated denials in an intensifying political scandal that has gripped the country.
The nationally televised testimony by Yasunori Kagoike came as his reportedly shady purchase of government land at a huge discount has dominated media coverage for weeks.
Abe, whose high approval ratings have taken a hit, has repeatedly denied giving Kagoike money and on more than one occasion offered to resign if he was found to be involved in the land deal.
Analysts have said that there would likely be nothing illegal in such a donation, but if proven it could damage Abe’s credibility given his steadfast denials.
Kagoike operates a kindergarten in western Japan that inculcates pupils with pre-World War II nationalist and native Shinto religious values and has made insulting comments about Chinese and Koreans.
When the controversy erupted last month, he was preparing to open an elementary school on the land purchased from the government at a price reportedly some one-tenth the market value.
The complex scandal has dominated parliamentary deliberations for weeks and his testimony prompted a media frenzy with five networks broadcasting it live. Kagoike was summoned for questioning by lawmakers after his claim last week that Abe’s wife Akie handed him one million yen ($9,000) in cash in his office in 2015 and said the money was from her husband.