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Tokyo Olympics sponsorship scandal widens as arrests rise

Author: Yuri Kageyama
Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Bribery charges against a former Tokyo Olympic organizing committee member widened on Sept. 6, as Japanese prosecutors “re-arrested” Haruyuki Takahashi in a case involving a publisher that became an Olympic sponsor. alleged payment.

The latest charges center on $540,000 that Takahashi received from Tokyo publishing company Kadokawa, according to the Tokyo District Attorney. The sponsorship allows Kadokawa, who produces both the film and the game, to publish shows and other books related to the Tokyo Olympics.

Also arrested were two Kadokawa officials, Toshiyuki Yoshihara and Kyoji Maina, who allegedly saved money.

Takahashi has been detained since his arrest last month on suspicion of accepting bribes from clothing maker Aoki Holdings. On Tuesday, he was formally charged with accepting $360,000 in bribes from Aoki.

Three Aoki officials were also charged with bribery. Prosecutors said the money was deposited into Takahashi’s bank account from October 2017 to March this year to help Aoki become an Olympic sponsor and produce licensed products.

Aoki produces “recruit suits” worn by high school graduates for interviews, a surprise choice for Japan’s Olympic team when top fashion brands in other countries design uniforms.

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

Takahashi, a former executive at advertising agency Dentsu, has enormous influence in arranging Olympic sponsorships.

Takahashi left Dentsu’s board in 2009, but continues to wield considerable influence in Japan’s advertising and event organization space and lead his own company.

He could not be reached for comment, but some Japanese media reports quoted Takahashi as saying he was innocent and that the payments were for consulting services.

Kadokawa Chairman Tsuhiko Kadokawa, who is not directly related to the allegations, has denied his company paid bribes, according to Japanese media reports.

On September 5, Tokyo prosecutors raided Daiko Advertising’s offices in Osaka and Tokyo as part of an investigation into Olympic corruption. No arrests have been made in the Daiko case.

The scandal could thwart Japan’s ambitions to host the 2030 Winter Olympics in Sapporo. The lawmaker in charge of the Tokyo Olympics and Olympian Seiko Hashimoto has pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

Tokyo, which hosted the postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games with much fanfare in the summer of 2021, has also been criticized for cost inflation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olympics have been postponed for a year and there are no public ticket sales.

The official price tag for last year’s Tokyo Olympics was $13 billion, mostly public funding.

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