A cloudy day in a residential area of Suginami Ward, Tokyo. An official of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s Special Investigation Department carries out a series of cardboard boxes containing seized materials. The home of Chancellor Hidetoshi Tanaka (74), the head of Japan’s largest educational institution, Nihon University, is searched.
On September 8, the special investigators raided three locations, including the headquarters of Nihon University (Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo) and the home of Chancellor Tanaka. It uncovered an opaque flow of money regarding the construction cost of the Itabashi Hospital attached to Nihon University School of Medicine (Itabashi Ward, Tokyo, hereinafter referred to as “Itabashi Hospital”). It is suspected of being a breach of trust, as it has caused more than 200 million yen in damages to the university.
“The university had planned to rebuild the Itabashi Hospital as a commemorative project for its 130th anniversary in 2007. The university spent about 2 billion yen on the project last year. Last year, the university awarded a contract to a contractor in Tokyo for the design and other work at a cost of about 2 billion yen. It is believed that over 200 million yen of that amount was illegally leaked and caused damage to the university.
The company that was involved in the contract with the contractor was an affiliated company called “Nihon University Division” (hereinafter referred to as “Division”), which is 100% owned by Nihon University. According to its official website, the company was established in January 2010. It is engaged in a variety of businesses, including sales of university goods, insurance agency business, and real estate. The company has 47 employees, and many of its directors, including the managing director of Nihon University, are executives of the university.
“When it was first established, sales were around several hundred million yen, but last year they grew rapidly to about 6.8 billion yen. We are involved in the procurement of drinking water for the campus, the management of a beauty salon, and even wedding and funeral services. The university administration strongly insists that all purchases be made through the division. Since they almost have a monopoly on the business, the cost is very high. ……” (Nihon University official)
The Don’s “pocket knife
The special prosecutor’s office is keeping a close eye on Mr. A, a board member of Nihon University and a director of the division, who is believed to be deeply involved in the contract with the contractor for the reconstruction of Itabashi Hospital. On September 9, the special investigators raided Mr. A’s home in Ashiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, and a relative’s house in Suginami Ward, Tokyo, as suspects involved in the alleged breach of trust.
“Mr. A is a close associate of Chancellor Tanaka, known as the ‘Don of Nihon University. Mr. A is a close associate of Chancellor Tanaka, who is known as the “Don of Nihon University.” He has earned the trust of Chancellor Tanaka by rapidly increasing the sales of the division, and is known as his “sword in the pocket” within the university. He resigned from the board after the dangerous tackle incident at the American football team in May 2006, but was re-elected last September.
When it comes to allegations of wrongdoing by his close associates, there is no way that the “Don of Nihon University” doesn’t know about it. The special investigators must have thought so and searched Chancellor Tanaka’s home.
While a student at Nihon University, Chancellor Tanaka was a member of the school’s sumo team, winning 34 titles, including three times becoming an amateur yokozuna. In 1983, after graduating from the university, he became the director of the sumo team. Since then, he has served as executive director and president of the alumni association, and in 2008 he became the president of the university.
“Mr. Tanaka has a wide range of contacts, especially in the sports world. His power within the university is immense. However, there were times when ‘black rumors’ were reported. In February 2001, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that he had received about 5 million yen from a construction contractor for the university. When the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) asked for a detailed report, the university explained that there was no basis in fact, but it has become the subject of a debate in the Diet.
The “Don of Nihon University” has been silent since he posted an apology on his website for the tackle incident involving the football team in 2006. This time, the special investigators are looking into him.
Photo by： Shinji Hasuo