Japanese politicians and prime ministers often resign due to political scandals. I even think that scandals are the most widely accepted tool for bringing about political or at least personnel change at the government level in Japan.

If so, prime minister Abe must be concerned about the allegations about his and his wife’s involvement in the Moritomo Gakuen scandal, which centers around a nationalist school operator in Osaka that might have obtained illicit subsidies and other favors and donations. For some background, see overview here.

On Thursday the embattled chief of Moritomo Gakuen Yasunori Kagoike will testify in parliament and thus provide new headlines and even more attention after he has promised to “tell everything in the Diet.”

I have no idea whether and how Abe and other LDP lawmakers have been involved in shabby background dealings. I also think that the current high popularity of Abe will work as a strong shield against any attacks against the prime minister. But there is a big BUT.

It was the prime minister’s office that set Thursday as the date for Kagoike’s testifying in parliament. It directly collides with the finals of the World Baseball Classics in the U.S., an event that might feature the Japanese national team, which has already qualified for the semi-finals.

If Team Japan reaches the finals, half of Japan will be glued to the TV screen and care much less about Moritomo Gakuen than at any other time of this week. Hence, any revealings in parliament would go less noticed than usually.

Again, I have no idea about what we have to expect from Kagoike’s statements. But the mere fact of the timing shows a nervousness among the Abe government not seen for a long time. Let us hope for all Japanese baseball fans (and Abe) that the Japanese team will reach the finals. Their semi-final opponent is nobody less then the U.S.

Jochen Legewie

Jochen Legewie

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