• Crime & Courts

Even mascot toy sales get caught up in Tokyo 2020 bribery scandal

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Then-Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga passes Tokyo 2020 mascots Miraitowa, left, and Someity as he leaves the Prime Minister’s Office in February 2021.

The bribery scandal being uncovered since the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics allegedly extends even to the cute but lucrative stuffed mascot toys.

Haruyuki Takahashi, the former executive board member of the organizing committee at the heart of the scandal, is under further suspicion of helping a Tokyo-based stuffed toy company secure the contract to sell replicas of the official mascots.

As officially licensed products, the stuffed toys could only be sold with the approval of the organizing committee.

The company, Sun Arrow Inc., is suspected of having paid several millions of yen to Takahashi, 78, who has been arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes from other companies wishing to become officially affiliated with Tokyo 2020.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation unit is investigating the latest revelation.

According to the organizing committee, companies wanting to sell official Tokyo 2020 products had to go through the committee’s screening process, and if approved, a licensing contract was signed between the two sides.

After signing its contract, Sun Arrow began selling stuffed toys of the Tokyo 2020 mascots “Miraitowa” and “Someity ” in July 2018.

During voluntary questioning by the special investigation unit, organizing committee executives who had come from advertising giant Dentsu Inc. and others said that Takahashi told them “to allow two companies, including Sun Arrow, to sell [the toys],” according to sources.

Sun Arrow is suspected of having provided several millions of yen to Takahashi via another company, and the special investigation unit is probing the provision of the funds and its purpose.

Sun Arrow handles many popular stuffed toys like the Teddy Bear series and “My Neighbor Totoro.” The company refrained from commenting in response to questions from The Yomiuri Shimbun on Thursday.

On Sept. 6, Takahashi was indicted on charges of accepting bribes totaling ¥51 million from apparel maker Aoki Holdings Inc., and rearrested the same day on suspicion of receiving about ¥76 million from publisher Kadokawa Corp.