Nihon University vows to break away from arrested ex-chair

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Nihon University President Naoto Kato said Friday that the university is determined to break away from former Chairman Hidetoshi Tanaka, 75, who has been arrested for alleged tax evasion.

Kato, who became new Nihon University chairman, expressed “heartfelt apologies” for the series of scandals involving the biggest university in Japan.

“We will make a break permanently from the former chairman and eliminate his influence,” Kato said at the first press conference since the university’s headquarters and other places were raided by Tokyo prosecutors in September.

Kato explained that he had failed to hold a press conference promptly as he was busy dealing with the investigation by the prosecution.

Regarding the management system dominated by Tanaka for 13 years, he said the former chairman had the authority to appoint board members and that the board was not functioning properly.

Kato then unveiled plans to give no executive compensation or retirement allowance to the former chairman and to set up a Nihon University reform council comprising outside experts to consider new ways to select board members.

As for subsidiary Nihon University Enterprise Co., which was at the center of a breach of trust case involving former university board director Tadao Inoguchi, Kato clarified that liquidation is in sight.

Inoguchi, 64, was arrested and indicted by the prosecutors on breach of trust charges related to projects including rebuilding an aging hospital of the university, before Tanaka’s arrest on Nov. 29 on suspicion of evading some ¥530 million in income tax.

While noting that an in-house investigation into the Inoguchi case is under way, Kato said the misconduct happened because Inoguchi’s power was so huge that he was controlling almost all operations of the business subsidiary.

Discussions on Nihon University Enterprise’s liquidation would start once the investigation into unclear flows of money and necessary accounting procedures are completed.

Meanwhile, the university’s consulting lawyer told the news conference that the internal investigation does no directly cover Tanaka’s tax evasion case.

Kato expressed resolve to materialize preventive measures so as to create no management or governance problem and restore trust in the university.