Japanese prosecutors are set to build yet another corruption case against a former Tokyo Olympic executive for allegedly accepting bribes from a company that sold officially licensed stuffed dolls of the games' mascots, investigative sources said Sunday.
Haruyuki Takahashi, 78, who has been at the center of the widening bribery scandal, is believed to have received a total of 8 million yen ($54,000) in cash from stuffed toy maker Sun Arrow Inc., the sources said.
The development is yet another blow to the image of last year's Olympics and Paralympics, which were postponed for one year before being held despite the coronavirus pandemic.
"It is very disappointing that (the allegations) have trampled on the efforts of so many people," Seiko Hashimoto, an upper house lawmaker who headed the now-defunct organizing committee, told reporters at the National Stadium, the main venue of the Summer Games.
"The situation has shattered our dreams and I'm deeply apologetic," she said after attending an event to commemorate the games.
Takahashi, who was a Tokyo Olympic organizing committee member, wielded great influence over the selection of sponsors for the world sports event. He has already been arrested three times on suspicion of accepting much bigger bribes from three other firms.
In the latest case, the Tokyo prosecutors' special investigation squad believes Takahashi lobbied the organizing committee to extend favors to the Tokyo-based toy maker over the sale of merchandise for the games, according to the sources.
The 8 million yen was first sent to a consulting firm run by a golf friend of Takahashi and the money was later transferred to him, a source familiar with the situation said.
Takahashi, also a former senior managing director of Japan's largest advertising agency Dentsu Inc., has been indicted for receiving bribes of around 51 million yen from business suit retailer Aoki Holdings Inc. and for accepting bribes of about 76 million yen from publisher Kadokawa Corp. in return for helping them to land games sponsorships.
In addition, Takahashi has been accused of accepting some 15 million yen in bribes from Daiko Advertising Inc. in return for asking the committee to use the firm as an agent for an English conversation school operator seeking to become a sponsor of the games.
The special investigation team has also discovered that major ad agency ADK Holdings Inc. paid about 19 million to the consulting firm after becoming an agent for a sponsor, the sources said.
Takahashi is alleged to have persuaded Dentsu, the exclusive agent to secure Japanese sponsors for the games, to use ADK as a marketing agent.