Ex-Aoki chairman admits to bribing arrested Tokyo 2020 exec, sources say

From Aoki Holdings, Inc.’s website
Hironori Aoki

Hironori Aoki, the former chairman of Aoki Holdings, Inc. who is under investigation for an alleged Olympics-related bribery case, has admitted that he made bribes, according to sources.

During questioning by the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, the 83-year-old, who led the operating company that mainly deals in business apparel, has begun making statements admitting to providing money and making requests to Haruyuki Takahashi, a Tokyo 2020 organizing committee executive board member already under arrest, the sources said.

“I had high expectations for Mr. Takahashi as he was a powerful member of the committee,” Aoki was quoted as saying.

Takahashi, 78, was arrested on Aug. 17 on suspicion of receiving bribes totaling ¥51 million from Aoki Holdings over the period from October 2017 to March this year in return for facilitating a Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics sponsorship contract for the company.

Three Aoki Holdings officials have been arrested on suspicion of paying bribes: Aoki, his brother Takahisa Aoki, 76, and senior managing executive officer Katsuhisa Ueda, 40.

According to the sources, Aoki said during questioning by prosecutors, “Mr. Takahashi was an influential member of the committee, so I told my people to make sure to pass our requests to him because we pay him ¥1 million a month.”

Ueda also was quoted as saying during questioning, “I was aware that Takahashi was a board member of the committee.”

It has recently come to light that Takahashi also acted as an intermediary to facilitate a Tokyo Games sponsorship contract for Kadokawa Corp., a major publisher and multimedia company.

Kadokawa paid a total of ¥70 million to a consulting firm run by an acquaintance of Takahashi after signing a sponsorship contract with the organizing committee in April 2019.

Prosecutors are investigating the matter on suspicion that at least part of that payment was a bribe for Takahashi.

“We are taking the situation very seriously and will fully cooperate with the investigation,” Kadokawa said in a statement released Saturday.

Prosecutors have extended the investigation and are questioning several other companies on suspicion that Takahashi may have been involved in other underhanded processes for selecting sponsors in addition to Aoki Holdings and Kadokawa.