Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (photo:ZUMA Press/AFLO)

<by Ryo Kuroki>

Ever since the incumbent Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike became a Member of Parliament in 1992, rumors have been circulating that Koike embellished her academic credentials.

Koike claims to have graduated from Cairo University but if an Arabic speaker listens to her Arabic, her published academic credentials as a Cairo University graduate seems more than dubious.

In Japan, falsification of academic records constitutes a criminal offence. Also, it is a  violation of Public Offices Election Law if claimed by candidates standing for public elections.

On 9, 12 and 24 March 2020, at the official sessions of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, four Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members of the Assembly respectively made four requests to Koike to submit the original copy of her academic certificates. All those requests were declined by Koike, stirring further speculation that her degree certificate is possibly forged.

There is strong evidence on Koike's academic embellishment. 

The July 2018 issue of the monthly “Bungeishunju" magazine published a 26-page report by journalist Taeko Ishii with the headline "Yuriko Koike’s Fake CV" ("Fake CV"). The report alleges that Koike’s claim that she graduated from Cairo University is an outright lie.

Testimony by a flatmate

Ishii interviewed a Japanese woman who shared a flat with Koike in Cairo in the 1970’s. This former flatmate described Koike’s life in Cairo in those days, and pointed out that Koike had failed Cairo University’s year-end exam in May 1976. She said that Koike could not retake the exam as she had not reached her fourth (i.e., the final) year at the time.

Despite so, after returning to Japan in October 1976, Koike began to claim that she graduated from the Sociology Department of the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University as “the No.1 student" (among about 150 students in the Department). The former flatmate also describes how Koike unashamedly admitted to her that she had lied in Japan about her academic credentials. This statement is supported by the former flatmate’s diaries and numerous letters to her mother. Most of the letters are dated and postmarked and are admissible in court.

This statement is serious. If true, then Koike has committed a series of crimes such as violating the Public Offices Election Law and exercising forged private documents. It also means that Koike has been deceiving voters by publishing false biographies in the election gazetteer for every election she stood since 1992.

Despite threatening to take legal actions at the press conference after Ishii’s report was published, Koike has neither offered any explanation nor challenged the report. This is very much out of character for Koike, given her tendency to talk a lot and counter-argue stubbornly whenever she disagrees.

However, Koike has so far swept the allegations up in smoke. The Japanese media are unfamiliar with Arabic language and Egyptian affairs. Also, some are generating advertisement revenues from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and therefore reluctant to pursue the allegations.

Feeling a sense of duty as someone who learnt Arabic and graduated from an Egyptian university (M.A. Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo), I decided to investigated the allegations. After two years of investigation, including 5 research trips to Cairo, I could not find any evidence, nor even the slightest hint that Koike graduated from Cairo University.

In this six-part article, I will describe in detail the quality of Koike’s Arabic, her possibly fraudulent admission to Cairo University, the long track record of the issuance of "fake degree certificate" by Egyptian state universities, the personality and influence of Dr. Abdel-Kader Hatem, a patron of Koike, and the benefits for the Egyptian government in keeping Koike as a graduate of an Egyptian University.

The purpose of this report is to provide correct information about Koike's academic credentials and to enable all concerned parties, including voters, to make the right decision.