Tokyo Olympics bribery arrests extend to third Japanese sponsor

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TOKYO (AP) — Corruption allegations against a former member of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee have ensnared a third company that sponsored the Games, as Japanese prosecutors “re-arrested” Haruyuki Takahashi for the third time on Tuesday.

The latest allegations of questionable payments relate to 15 million yen ($104,000) that Takahashi and another official received from Daiko Advertising Inc., based in Osaka, central Japan, Tokyo district prosecutors said in a statement.

The arrests, which come the same day as former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral, which attracts foreign dignitaries including IOC President Thomas Bach and US Vice President Kamala Harris, underscore prosecutors’ determination to shed light on Olympic history. scandal.

Japanese culture generally emphasizes “saving face” and embarrassment on the international stage tends to be avoided. The arrests are also likely a setback for Japan’s 2030 Winter Olympics bid ambitions for Sapporo.

A Daiko official was also arrested. Daiko apologized for the arrests, “for the inconvenience caused to customers and stakeholders”, and promised to cooperate with the investigation.

Daiko is the third company in the growing Olympic scandal, after Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that has dressed the Japanese Olympic team, and major publisher Kadokawa.

With more than 50 companies sponsoring the Tokyo Olympics, speculation is rife that a string of arrests could continue for months.

Takahashi, 78, a former executive at advertising company Dentsu, has been detained since his initial arrest on August 17 on suspicion of Aoki bribery totaling 51 million yen ($350,000).

Aoki, who makes inexpensive costumes, was a surprise choice to create the outfits for the team. Three Aoki officials were also arrested.

Last month, prosecutors arrested Takahashi again, citing additional bribery allegations, this time from Kadokawa, which also produces movies and games, for a total of 76 million yen ($530,000).

The sponsorship allowed Kadokawa to publish programs and other books related to the Tokyo Olympics. Two Kadokawa officials were also arrested.

Eight days later, prosecutors arrested Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, the company’s chairman, on allegations of bribing Takahashi with 69 million yen ($480,000). Kadokawa asserted his innocence.

Takahashi has already been formally charged with bribery in Aoki’s payments. On Tuesday, he was officially charged with Kadokawa’s payments.

Kazumasa Fukami, the head of a consulting firm who was arrested along with Takahashi in the Kadokawa case, has been arrested again in the Daiko case.

Prosecutors allege Takahashi acted in a manner to favor companies in Olympics-related business perks in return for the bribes.

Extending a suspect’s detention time by adding other charges, which is common in Japan, has been widely criticized by human rights activists as “hostage justice”. Analysts say Takahashi, if released on bail, could destroy evidence.

Takahashi has had a huge hand in organizing Olympic sponsorships, although he left Dentsu’s board in 2009. He was not available for comment.

Tokyo hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2021, after a year-long postponement due to the pandemic. The official price was $13 billion, mostly public money. Critics say the burden on taxpayers could have been heavier.

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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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