Education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi says his ministry was legally entitled to inquire about a public school lecture by a former ministry official.
It came to light on Thursday that the ministry had demanded details of the talk that the former vice education minister, Kihei Maekawa, gave last month at a junior high school in Nagoya, central Japan. The request was made in an email to the city’s board of education.
The news has sparked controversy as the central government is not allowed, in principle, to intervene in schools’ educational programs.
Hayashi stressed to reporters on Friday that the inquiry was based on the law.
He said it would not be appropriate for the school to invite someone to give a lecture without sufficiently checking his or her background.
Hayashi added that, to prevent any misunderstanding, the request should not have been made by email.
He said he chided the person in charge, as ministry officials should always be careful not to give misleading messages to schools.
The official demanded to know the details of 15 points related to the invitation and the content of Maekawa’s lecture, and asked the education board to submit an audio recording of the talk.
The email also noted that Maekawa resigned from the ministry last year for illegally helping retiring bureaucrats land private-sector posts and reports that he used to visit a singles bar.