Guilty Ruling for Moritomo Gakuen Head, Wife to Become Final

REUTERS/Issei Kato
File-Yasunori Kagoike (C), head of Moritomo Gakuen, attends a parliamentary session for his testify in Tokyo, Japan March 23, 2017.

Tokyo—Prison sentences are set to become final for Yasunori Kagoike, 69, head of Japanese school operator Moritomo Gakuen, and his wife over 170-million-yen subsidy fraud, it was learned Thursday.

The Supreme Court’s First Petty Bench made a decision dated Tuesday to reject the defendants’ appeals, allowing the ruling upheld by Osaka High Court to become final. Kagoike got a five-year term, and his 66-year-old wife, Junko, a 30-month term.

The couple will be imprisoned after the ruling becomes final.

According to the high court ruling, the couple swindled the central government out of ¥56 million in subsidies by 2017 by padding school construction costs.

Between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2016, the couple defrauded the Osaka prefectural and municipal governments out of some ¥120 million in subsidies by overreporting the numbers of kindergarten teachers and children in need of support, the ruling also said.

Moritomo Gakuen in 2016 bought at a huge discount a state land plot to build a school. The transaction led to favoritism allegations against then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as his wife, Akie, had held the title of the school’s honorary principal, albeit briefly.

In February 2020, Osaka District Court found the couple guilty of the state subsidy fraud while acquitting the wife of some charges related to the local government subsidies.

The district court handed down a five-year prison term to Kagoike while sentencing the wife to three years in prison, suspended for five years.

Osaka High Court in April 2022 found the couple guilty over both the central and local government subsidies. The court endorsed the five-year sentence for Kagoike while giving a 30-month unsuspended sentence to his wife.