Audit finds no grounds for massive discount in Osaka land sale involving Abe-linked school operator
Japan Times -- Nov 23
The government sold land in Osaka to school operator Moritomo Gakuen for a highly discounted price based on faulty data estimating the cost of removing industrial waste left in the plot, a government watchdog on spending concluded in a much-awaited report released Wednesday.

The conclusion by the Board of Audit is likely to give further ammunition to opposition lawmakers who suspect the Finance Ministry gave a massive 86 percent discount in the ¥134 million land sale because the school operator once had close ties with Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Both the prime minister and his wife have repeatedly denied any involvement in the sale, and the ministry has maintained that the price was determined appropriately.

Ministry officials, however, were quick to discard key documents involved in the price negotiations with the school operator, which has deepened the public's suspicion over the land deal.

The Finance Ministry claimed that the land price was greatly discounted because it estimated 19,520 tons of industrial waste was buried underneath the ground in the compound and it would cost ¥819.7 million to remove it. But the report suggested the amount of the waste was likely far less than the ministry's estimate. The board, using several different methods of calculation, showed the range could have been between 6,196 tons and 13,927 tons.

The board also said that it could not estimate the exact cost of disposing the waste, pointing out that many documents were discarded or not produced by government officials. The board "has recognized situations (linked to the sale), which are not necessarily appropriate" and the government "should have more carefully studied" the land deal conditions, the reported read.

8億円の値引きについて、「十分な根拠が確認できない」と報告しました。 学校法人「森友学園」への国有地売却問題で、会計検査院は8億円分の値引きの根拠となった地中のごみの量などについて、「十分な根拠が確認できない」と国会に報告しました。
News sources: Japan Times, ANNnewsCH
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