Prosecutors on Wednesday sought a 30-month sentence for the former chairman of a major suit retailer, who, along with two others, is charged with giving 28 million yen ($215,000) in bribes to a former Tokyo Olympics organizing committee executive to land a sponsorship deal.
Hironori Aoki, the 84-year-old former chairman of Aoki Holdings Inc., "used the Tokyo Olympics for self-interest and trampled the public value of the tournament," prosecutors said in a trial at the Tokyo District Court.
The case is among a series of bribery cases involving former organizing committee executive Haruyuki Takahashi over the Summer Games in 2021.
The games has also been hit by a major bid-rigging scandal over its test events involving a number of leading ad firms, including Dentsu Inc., for which Takahashi used to work. Prosecutors are now seeking to build a case against Dentsu officials for violating the antimonopoly law, according to a source close to the matter.
Aoki, his brother and the firm's former vice chairman Takahisa Aoki, 77, as well as former executive director Katsuhisa Ueda, 41, are accused of giving bribes between September 2019 and March last year to Takahashi, 78, who had influence over the committee's marketing division, charged with sponsorship selection.
The three requested Takahashi to select their company as an Olympics sponsor and get them a contract, which would include preferential rights over providing official outfits for the Japanese team's athletes, according to the indictment.
Takahashi was a former senior managing director of Dentsu, Japan's largest advertising agency, which had sent many of its employees to the committee's marketing division.
Due to Takahashi's order to the organizing committee, Aoki was given priority in the process of signing a sponsorship contract, the prosecutors said.
The prosecutors said Aoki's "hefty bribe-giving over a long period" was "an extremely malicious act," adding that the former chairman was "greedy and tenacious" in seizing every occasion to depend on Takahashi to land the sponsorship contract.
The three met former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, 85, who was chief of the organizing committee and won a favorable response from him. Mori had entrusted Takahashi with finding sponsors, the prosecutors said.
They sought an 18-month sentence for Takahisa Aoki and a one-year sentence for Ueda, seeing Hironori Aoki as the main offender who bears the "heaviest responsibility."
The defense team for the three asked for suspended terms, arguing the defendants did not earn personal benefits.
The three had admitted to the charges at the first hearing held in December last year.
In his closing statements, Hironori Aoki said, "I regret deeply. I apologize."
The ruling will be handed down on April 21.
In the widening scandal that has tarnished the image of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Takahashi has been indicted four times on charges of receiving bribes totaling some 198 million yen through five routes in return for helping companies be selected as a sponsor or a marketing agent of the global event.
Concerning bid rigging, Tokyo prosecutors are considering pressing charges on Dentsu officials who worked for the games, as well as a former operations executive of the organizing committee, the source said.
Multiple Dentsu officials have recently admitted to rigging bids for contracts related to the events.
The former operations executive and Dentsu officials are suspected of creating and repeatedly updating a list of firms to use in arranging successful bidders of the test events, according to the source.
The test events were held from 2018 to 2021 for organizers to check for potential problems with operations, security and guiding audiences.
The investigation is being carried out in cooperation with the Japan Fair Trade Commission.