Japan arrests Kadokawa executives in Olympic bribery probe

JAPANESE prosecutors made more arrests and served fresh charges against a former Tokyo Olympics organizing panel member on Tuesday, widening their investigations into alleged bribery in the games sponsorship process.

Prosecutors arrested publisher Kadokawa Corp.’s adviser and former senior executive officer Toshiyuki Yoshihara, as well as former manager Kyoji Maniwa, alongside a fresh warrant for former Tokyo 2020 board member Haruyuki Takahashi, according to a statement by the prosecutors office Tuesday.

The executives at Kadokawa were arrested on suspicion of making bribes to win sponsorship for the games, the statement said. Kadokawa paid Takahashi a total of 69 million yen ($489,000) of bribery between 2019 and 2021 through an account of Kazumasa Fukami, who was also arrested Tuesday, it said.

“We take this matter very seriously” and will fully cooperate with authorities including responding to requests from prosecutors, Kadokawa said in a statement.

Kadokawa stock dropped as much as 5.5% in Tokyo trading Tuesday, the largest intraday fall since Aug. 29.

The Tokyo Olympic games, after being postponed by a year earlier due to the Covid-19 pandemic, had yielded a hefty $3.3 billion from sponsors by the time they kicked off in 2021.

Takahashi, as well as current and former executives of clothing retailer Aoki Holdings Inc., were arrested last month. Prosecutors suspect Takahashi of taking a total of 51 million yen between 2017 and 2021 from the Aoki executives seeking favorable treatment for sponsorship and licensing contracts.

Aoki founder and former Chairman Hironori Aoki, former Executive Vice Chairman Takahisa Aoki and current Senior Managing Executive Officer Katsuhisa Ueda were arrested on suspicion of making bribes, the company said. More than 50 payments were made to the account of a company run by Takahashi.

Takahashi is a former senior managing director of advertising giant Dentsu Inc. He had left the company before the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee appointed Dentsu in 2014 to assist it with marketing and sponsorship. Dentsu Inc. is now a unit of Dentsu Group Inc. after a change in holding company structure. Dentsu will continue to fully cooperate with investigations, the company said by email. –BLOOMBERG