Tokyo 2020 sponsorship scandal grows

Tokyo 2020 sponsorship scandal grows

Accusations against a former member of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee widened on Tuesday when Japanese prosecutors “re-arrested” Haruyuki Takahashi in a case involving alleged payments from a publishing company that became a sponsor of the Games.

The new charges centered on 76 million yen ($540,000) Takahashi received from Tokyo-based publisher Kadokawa, according to the Tokyo district prosecutor’s office. The deal allowed Kadokawa, which also produces games and movies, to publish programs and other books related to the Tokyo Games.

Two Kadokawa employees, Toshiyuki Yoshihara and Kyoji Maniwa, who allegedly deposited the money, were also arrested on Tuesday.

Takahashi has been jailed since his arrest last month on suspicion that he received bribes from clothing manufacturer Aoki Holdings. He was indicted on Tuesday for receiving 51 million yen ($360,000) in bribes from Aoki.

Three Aoki workers were charged with paying bribes. The money was deposited into a bank account at Takahashi’s company between October 2017 and March this year, as part of Aoki’s efforts to become an Olympic sponsor and manufacture official Games products, according to the prosecution.

Aoki, which makes the suits high school graduates wear for job interviews, was an unexpected choice to dress the Japanese Olympic team, while other countries turned to high-end fashion houses to design the uniforms.

Kazumasa Fukami, head of a consulting firm, was arrested on suspicion of helping Takahashi receive the bribes.

Takahashi, a former director of the advertising firm Dentsu, was instrumental in coordinating the Olympic sponsorships. He stepped down from the Dentsu board in 2009, but still had considerable influence in Japan’s advertising and event planning industry, running his own company.

It was not possible to request comments from the former director, although some Japanese media quoted his statements in which he insisted on his innocence and attributed the payments to consulting services.

Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, chairman of Kadokawa, who was not directly implicated in the accusations, denied that his company had paid any bribes, according to Japanese media reports.

Tokyo prosecutors raided Daiko Advertising’s offices in Osaka and Tokyo on Monday as part of the Olympic corruption investigation. No arrests have been made in the Daiko case.

The scandal will likely be a setback for Japan’s aspirations to host the 2030 Winter Olympics in Sapporo. Seiko Hashimoto, a lawmaker and former Olympian who ran the Tokyo Games, has promised to cooperate with the investigation.

Tokyo held the Olympic and Paralympic Games with great fanfare, but also amid criticism over skyrocketing costs, in the summer of 2021. The event was delayed a year and held without public ticket sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The official cost of the games was $13 billion, most of it from public funds.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.