Photo/IllutrationHirokazu Matsuno, the education minister, speaks with reporters on June 15 after meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to report the findings of a re-investigation into internal documents related to Kake Educational Institution's planned veterinary medicine faculty. (Shinichi Iizuka)

After weeks of downplay and denial, the education ministry admitted June 15 it had found 14 documents with the same or strikingly similar contents to the one that cast greater interest in the Kake Educational Institution scandal.

Hirokazu Matsuno, the education minister, held a news conference that day in which he explained the findings of a second ministry investigation and said similar documents had been found. He also apologized for having said that the first investigation had been proper and complete.

The "original" document was about a plan by Kake Educational Institution to open a veterinary medicine faculty in a National Strategic Special Zone, and described an exchange between education ministry officials and high-ranking officials of the Cabinet Office, which is in charge of the strategic special zones. The institution is headed by a close friend of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The document has the Cabinet Office officials pushing for the rapid processing of the application by Kake Educational Institution, and are quoted as saying: "This is something passed on from the highest levels of the prime minister's office" as well as referring to the "prime minister's intent."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga blasted the first document as "bogus," and an earlier education ministry investigation led to the conclusion that no such document existed.

However, a re-investigation was ordered on June 9 after Kihei Maekawa, a former administrative vice education minister, and a current ministry official spoke out separately and said the document did exist and had been shared by ministry officials.

Cabinet Office officials have said in the Diet that no one made the comment about "the highest levels of the prime minister's office." But, with the results of the latest re-investigation by the education ministry, the Cabinet Office will conduct another probe of its own.

With the current Diet session scheduled to close on June 18, there will not be adequate time for lawmakers to go over the results of the latest investigation by the education ministry or the new Cabinet Office one.

The education ministry’s re-investigation covered computer folders shared in a larger number of ministry sections than in the first investigation, which took about a day to complete, and in the second probe almost three times the number of ministry officials were questioned about their knowledge of the document.