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Tokyo Olympic bribery scandal rolls on; company apologises

TOKYO (AP) – A Japanese company embroiled in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic corruption scandal said yesterday it would strengthen oversight to prevent further wrongdoing.

President of the Japanese entertainment company Kadokawa Takeshi Natsuno bowed deeply with two other executives to show remorse in a news conference.

He said the company “seriously betrayed public trust”.

The company founder’s son Tsuguhiko Kadokawa was arrested in September on suspicion of bribing Tokyo Olympic organising committee member Haruyuki Takahashi with JPY69 million (USD480,000).

Kadokawa Group was chosen as an Olympic sponsor and published the Games programme and guidebooks.

Takahashi is a former executive at the Japanese advertising company Dentsu, which played a key role in 2013 in landing the Olympics for Tokyo, and then became the Tokyo Games marketing arm.

Takahashi was arrested and released from jail after being held for about four months.

Japanese media said he is denying the corruption charges.

Workers prepare to remove giant Olympic rings from the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan. PHOTO: AP

He also faces bribery allegations in connection with several companies tied to the Tokyo Olympics: Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that dressed Japan’s Olympic team; Daiko Advertising Inc, ADK Marketing Solutions, and Sun Arrow, which produced the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic mascots named Miraitowa and Someity. Any trials are likely to be slow moving as the Japanese court process tends to be drawn out, and more than a dozen people are involved.

Prosecutors said Takahashi acted in ways to favour the companies with sponsorships and other benefits related to the Olympics in return for the bribes.

Prosecutors said, besides the bribery scandal, a separate probe is ongoing into bid-rigging and the choice of venues for Olympic test events.

The sprawling corruption allegations surrounding Tokyo have caused the bid by the northern Japanese city of Sapporo for the 2030 Winter Games to be placed “on hold”.

Sapporo was considered the favourite for 2030, partially because of Japan’s reliability and heavy spending to hold the delayed Tokyo Games.

The official price tag for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was USD13 billion, although a government audit suggested real costs might be twice that much.

About 60 per cent of Tokyo Olympic spending was public money.

The Games were postponed for a year and held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.