Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe [wikipedia.org] has promised to resign if he is found to have any involvement with a land deal [npr.org] for Tsukamoto Kindergarten. The founder of the school, Yasunori Kagoike, received a steep discount for the land. The school has been supported by nationalist politicians like Abe due to its conservative/patriotic teachings, and Abe's wife served as an honorary principal at the school. Since the scandal broke in February, politicians have distanced themselves from Kagoike:
From its exterior, there's no visible sign that [Tsukamoto Kindergarten] is at the center of a scandal on which the leader of Japan has staked his political future. The school's owner is accused of using his relationship with Japan's first family to secure a plot of land for a new, right-wing primary school at a massive discount.
Despite the scandal, Tsukamoto Kindergarten's traditional teachings have been an attraction to some parents. "I decided to send my son there because they teach shogi [Japanese chess] and kendo [Japanese swordsmanship]," says parent Mrs. Sakamoto. "And they serve nice lunches." Mrs. Sakamoto asked that we not use her full name in order to protect her 5-year-old son, who was forced to leave the school after she got into a dispute with the school's management. Sakamoto says discipline at the school was strict. Kids were only allowed to use the bathrooms at certain times. After attending the school, she adds, "My son became well-spoken and well-behaved. And his posture straightened up."
One thing that made Sakamoto uncomfortable was that the kindergarten made kids memorize and recite an imperial decree, issued in the name of the Meiji Emperor [britannica.com] in the year 1890. Called the Imperial Rescript on Education [japantimes.co.jp], it teaches the kids Confucian virtues: respect your parents; work for the public good. "I think it's dangerous," she says. "There may be some good things in it, but in the end, it says you should die for the sake of the emperor." Sakamoto explains that the decree is in classical Japanese, and most students and parents didn't understand its meaning. So, although she didn't like her child reciting it, she let it go.
[...] Last year, when Yasunori Kagoike acquired state-owned land to build his new elementary school, he got a nearly 90 percent discount. The government explained that it was because the land was polluted. Kagoike told opposition party lawmakers that the government saw his as a "special case." "I told the person in charge of our case at the finance ministry that I was reporting back to Mrs. Abe about the process," he said. "I figured this is what resulted in our 'special case.'"
Related: Japanese kindergarten teaches students pre-war ideals [reuters.com]
An ultranationalist kindergarten in Japan [economist.com]