Photo/IllutrationMoritomo Gakuen submitted this photo to back its claim that waste was buried in a plot of land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, that it wanted to acquire. The white board indicates that the hole dug was 3 meters deep even though a hole of 4 meters had to have been dug. (Provided by Moritomo Gakuen source)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Government officials bought Moritomo Gakuen's claim that there were thousands of tons of waste buried in the state-owned land the educational institution wanted for a private elementary school, so they steeply discounted the selling price.

It turns out that the total amount of waste actually removed from the site was 194 tons, only about 1 percent of the tonnage the government thought existed there.

Officials of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism revealed at a Dec. 13 meeting of Democratic Party lawmakers that documents submitted by waste disposal companies showed 194 tons had been removed. Waste disposal companies are required, in principle, to submit a list of the industrial waste removed from any site.

Subsequently, Moritomo Gakuen officials informed the land ministry that other waste had been found buried deeper underground. Government officials then calculated their estimate of how much garbage might be buried on the site and came up with 19,520 tons.

In June 2016, the government calculated the cost of removing that waste at 820 million yen ($7.2 million) and discounted that amount from the appraised value of the vacant site and sold it to Moritomo Gakuen for 134 million yen.

According to officials of Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, where the site in question is located, the waste included in the list submitted by the disposal company was removed from the site in fiscal 2016 and that none was buried.

Although any other waste that may be buried remains on the site, city officials said they were unsure of the exact amount of waste that is buried there.

Opposition party questions in the Diet about why the favorable discount was given led to a focus on ties between Yasunori Kagoike, the former head of Moritomo Gakuen, and Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The planned elementary school was later scrapped because of the media spotlight on the scandal, and Moritomo Gakuen subsequently filed for bankruptcy.