Clubbing and fitness gyms… Convicted “kindergarten don” uses “over 600 million yen in illicit withdrawals” in an appalling manner. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Clubbing and fitness gyms… Convicted “kindergarten don” uses “over 600 million yen in illicit withdrawals” in an appalling manner.

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Kagawa addresses a party held at a hotel in Tokyo in July 2001 (Image: Kyodo News)

The judge pointed out that the defendant was in a position to properly manage the federation as its president, but that he decided to forge the documents for his own protection, fearing that the funds would be found to have leaked out.

The presiding judge urged the defendant to reflect on his actions.

On December 20, the Tokyo District Court (Presiding Judge Yoshihisa Nakao) sentenced Takashi Kagawa, 71, to one year and six months in prison with a three-year suspended sentence for forgery of sealed private documents. Kagawa is the former president of the All-Japan Federation of Private Kindergartens (hereinafter referred to as “Kindergarten Federation”). In order to conceal the illegal outflow of funds, he is alleged to have forged bank books and other documents in the name of the federation.

The Kikuenren and related organizations made unauthorized withdrawals of approximately 680 million yen over a three-year period from 2005 to 2008. Kagawa is alleged to have conspired with former Executive Director Norio Katsikura to forge four bankbooks and three certificates of balance for the Kindergarten Union so that the fraud would not be exposed. Kagawa admitted the charges at his first trial.

Strong Ties to Politicians

Kagawa (far left), who was in contact with influential politicians such as former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been charged with forgery. (Image: Kyodo News)

Kagawa was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture. After graduating from the Kunitachi College of Music, he became president of a Buddhist kindergarten in Hofu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. He later served as a member of the Hofu City Board of Education and as a member of the Yamaguchi Prefectural Public Safety Commission. In May 2010, he became president of the Kindergarten Federation, which aims to promote early childhood education.

He served five terms as president for 10 years. He has strong connections with many politicians and is an absolutely powerful figure in the kindergarten federation. Some people called him the ‘kindergarten don. He once used his relationships with politicians to get a law amended to make early childhood education free of charge. He often cracks jokes and has a bold personality. I got the impression that he was always working together with Katsikura, the former director-general of the MEXT.

Kagawa wielded power, but his downfall came in September 2008. The accounting audit revealed that he had unaccounted for approximately ¥500 million in unaccounted-for funds.

Kagawa is alleged to have falsified the bank books and other documents of the kindergarten association in order to prevent the fraud from being discovered. Kagawa admitted to forgery and resigned as president in November 2008. Kagawa admitted to forgery and resigned as president in November 2008, saying in his defense that he had not misappropriated funds for personal use. On the other hand, Katsikura said, “I made deposits and withdrawals under Kagawa’s instruction. The kindergarten federation filed a complaint against the two in March 2009.

The investigation by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department revealed that the unaccounted-for money amounted to 680 million yen. The Metropolitan Police Department’s investigation uncovered 680 million yen in unaccounted-for funds, the majority of which were believed to have gone to the two defendants.

Kagawa had been spending a lot of money at clubs in Ginza and Akasaka, where he had many women sitting at his table. He was often in his hometown in Yamaguchi Prefecture, but when he was in Tokyo, he stayed at a luxury hotel. It seems that most of the expenses, including the hire car fare for transportation, were spent as expenses of the kindergarten club. There is also a story that the money was also used to pay for a fitness gym in Minato Ward, Tokyo, where he was a member,” said a Ministry of Education official.

Kagawa was in a position to realize the dreams of children. It seems that he forgot his true duty as the head of the kindergarten federation by spending dirty money.

The building in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward that houses the Kindergarten Federation (Image: Jiji Press. Some photos have been doctored)
  • Photo: Kyodo News Co. Kyodo News, Jiji Press

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