In the May edition of the monthly Bungeishunju magazine. Toshiro Kojima, a former aide to Yuriko Koike, claimed that Tokyo’s first female governor drafted a fake graduation document from Cairo University. Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) on Wednesday afternoon, he reiterated that accusation.

Former Aide Claims Koike Lied About University Degree

“Throughout her political career, Governor Koike has claimed to be the first Japanese woman who graduated top of her class from Cairo University,” he began. “However, in the year 2020, which was at the time when she was about to be seeking reelection, as the governor, the suspicion that she had falsified her academic record was raised in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly. It was in May of that year that the book Empress Yuriko Koike was published, which reinforced these suspicions.” 

The book he is referring to was written by journalist Taeko Ishii, who was reportedly told by Koike’s old roommate that the governor quit Cairo University after two years. “Within these circumstances, on June 9 of that year, a document titled “Statement Cairo University” was published on the Facebook page of the Egyptian embassy in Japan,” continued Kojima. “This document was issued in the name of Cairo University. Appearing to confirm that Governor Koike was indeed a graduate of the university.  As a result of this, voices suspecting falsification of her academic record quietened down and Governor Koike was successfully reelected in July of that same year.” 

The Statement

The statement from Professor Mohamed Othman Elkhosht on June 9 read, “Cairo University certifies that Yuriko Koike, born in 1952, graduated from the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University in October 1976. The graduation certificate was issued through the regular procedure by Cairo University. Despite this, unfortunately, some Japanese media journalists have repeatedly questioned the credibility of certificates by Cairo University. Such behavior seriously damages the honor of Cairo University and Cairo University graduates and cannot be overlooked. This statement is a warning against this series of actions, and we are currently examining the actions and considering appropriate measures based on the laws of Egypt.”

According to Kojima, a former journalist and friend of his, who he refers to a Mr. A, was the person who effectively wrote this statement. At the press conference, he showed a draft written by Mr. A and the statement released by the university professor, which looked very similar. Kojima added that, “The statement had been secured just one day after she first asked me about this. Considering the time difference between Japan and Egypt, this was astonishingly fast speed.” It was also posted in English and Japanese, but not Arabic and didn’t appear on the university website, but on the Egyptian embassy Facebook page.

“For many years, the majority of the Japanese mainstream media has blindly accepted Governor Koike’s versions of events and faithfully reported them as so,” said Kojima. “When the statement from her university appeared, the media also simply accepted her assertion that she had not falsified her academic records without any scrutiny. However, based on my own experience and the experience of Mr. A…  we can say that this statement was indeed drafted with involvement from Governor Koike herself.”

Allegations Against Koike Won’t Go Away

After Koike was reelected as governor in 2020, the matter seemed like it was settled. However, the release of a paperback edition of Ishii’s book last December, brought it back into the open. Koike’s roommate, who was referred to pseudonymously in the original book, allowed Ishii to use her real name, Momoyo Kitahara. Asked by the evening newspaper Nikkan Gendai why she was prepared to reveal her identity for the re-issue, Kitahara said, “First, I felt that because my name was left out in the previous book, doubts were raised over my statements regarding Koike. After watching all the reportage over the scandal concerning the Johnny Kitagawa talent agency and resulting problems, I felt I was left with no choice but to allow my name to be quoted.”

Koike was expected to run for a third term in the 2024 gubernatorial election. She might now be thinking twice about that following these latest revelations, though she remains adamant that she has done nothing wrong. At a press conference last Friday, she vehemently denied the allegations made by Kojima. “I am aware that the article was published,” she said, “but the basic premise is wrong. They allege that I have not graduated, but I have, and the university has vouched for this.” Regarding the statement, she asserted that, “the university issued it voluntarily” and that it has confirmed her graduation “multiple times.”

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