• Crime & Courts

Arrested Tokyo 2020 exec linked to another shady sponsorship deal

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kadokawa Corp.’s head office in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee executive board member already under arrest in an Olympics-related bribery probe is now suspected of acting as an intermediary for major publisher Kadokawa Corp. to be selected as an official Tokyo Games sponsor, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Haruyuki Takahashi, 78, was arrested on Aug. 17 on suspicion of receiving bribes totaling ¥51 million from business apparel giant Aoki Holdings Inc. in return for facilitating an Olympic sponsorship contract for the company.

Suspicion has further emerged that Takahashi acted as an intermediary for several other companies in the selection of Games sponsors.

According to sources, Kadokawa, a Tokyo-based major publishing company, paid a total of ¥70 million to a consulting firm run by an acquaintance of Takahashi after the publisher signed a sponsorship contract with the organizing committee. The company claims the payment was for consulting fees.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is pursuing the case with the suspicion that part of the payment was a bribe for Takahashi.

In response to this development, Kadokawa has set up an internal task force and begun questioning employees related to the matter, looking to gather details about the dealings with the consulting firm.

In April 2019, Kadokawa signed a contract with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee to serve as an “Official Supporter” in the category of “Books and Magazines Publishing Services.”

This authorized Kadokawa to produce officially licensed merchandise, such as the official guidebook, and it began putting its products on sale in April 2021.

According to the sources, after Tokyo was chosen to host the Games, Kadokawa, which was hoping to become a Games sponsor, sought out the advice of an acquaintance of Takahashi.

There was no sponsorship category for publishing at the time, but upon hearing from the acquaintance about Kadokawa’s inquiries, Takahashi proposed to the organizing committee and the leading advertising agency Dentsu Inc. that such a slot be established.

Takahashi had previously served as an executive at Dentsu, and it was the exclusive marketing agency in charge of recruiting Games sponsorships.

Subsequently, Takahashi recommended Kadokawa and another publisher as sponsorship candidates. Kadokawa was chosen because the other publisher pulled out.

The month after signing the contract with the organizing committee, Kadokawa began making payments to the consulting company run by Takahashi’s acquaintance. A total of ¥70 million allegedly passed hands.

In addition to Takahashi’s acquaintance, prosecutors have questioned several people on a voluntary basis, including Kadokawa Chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa and a Dentsu official involved in the selection of sponsors.

The Dentsu side was quoted as telling prosecutors, “Takahashi proposed that Kadokawa pay money to the consulting company.”

The company chairman has denied any deal with Takahashi. “I met Mr. Takahashi once at the organizing committee and only exchanged greetings,” Kadokawa said in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun in late July.