On this Japan trip is a list of items I didn’t get to in July and August, (and some follow up on my visit to Shibuya Ward.) At the top of my list is finally visiting the place where Temple University spends some of Pennsylvania taxpayer money. The people there were very kind and treated me with dignity—unlike the kind of Philadelphia “attitude” that the main campus is known for.
As I had been told a couple of years ago, when I began the “Temple Japan spends Pennsylvania taxpayer money” project, the primary building for Temple University Japan Campus is in Minami Azabu 2-chome (a section of downtown Tokyo), the “Nippon Seimei Minami Azabu Biru”. (You see the Chinese characters above the entrance there.) There is virtually zero chance that Temple owns this building. It’s owned by a Japanese Life Insurance Company, Nippon Seimei, nicknamed “Nissay”. Nissay owns it, Temple Japan pays rent to it.
Temple University Japan Campus occupies six floors in the Nissay building, the first six:
This has been probably since the building was put up in 1987, or sometime shortly afterward.
How much does a floor rent for, in this location? The seventh floor—the one right above Temple’s six—-is said to be for rent:
There is no listed price, but the website guesses 20,000 yen per “tsubo”, where a floor contains 171 tsubo. That’s a monthly charge, and so 3,420,000 yen a month. About $28,500 at 120 yen/USD. Over a year, $342,000 per floor. (This is assuming the prices on all floors would be equal.)
Temple’s six floors, arguably, cost just over $2 million a year ($2,052,000) at that rate. And this is with the current weak yen. It was 50% higher just a couple years ago.
My own guess, that I’ve been using the past five years, is $2 million a year. I may have been a little low.
As longtime readers know, I am proposing that this $2 million doesn’t show in the Temple University expenses that the school reports, year after year. Instead, it appears as a (netted-out) balance sheet item for capital leases. Temple treats it, which it can do under current accounting rules, as if they actually “bought” the first six floors of Nissay, and then are adjusting the value of this property when they pay out rent to Nissay. The cash disappears, but the expense never shows.
What is interesting, is that other people around Pennsylvania have been asking about things Temple does with the over $100 million in state money that it gets given every year by the taxpayers. When I was at the Lancaster County Democratic Committee fall event this October, I spoke with the Auditor General, Eugene dePasquale. When Mr. dePasquale was serving in the Pennsylvania House, he proposed a bill to compel the “Commonwelath related” universities like Temple to be more forthcoming about where the money gets spent. The bill didn’t advance in the Republican-led chamber. And Governor Corbett was useless on the issue, as he was on so many things, (which is largely why he isn’t governor anymore come January 20.)
So now there’s Governor Wolf, who faces a large state deficit caused by Corbett. Isn’t it time, once again, for people in Harrisburg to ask what the state-related schools like Temple do with the money we send them? A Democratic governor is obviously going to be more friendly to higher education. Shouldn’t part of the bargain be, though, that we get to know?
Has this campus actually leaked out $20 million or more, over the past ten years, into the Tokyo real estate market — when most universities simply set up sending-receiving relationships with established Japanese colleges?