Former Tokyo Games Official Arrested in Bid-Rigging Probe

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Yasuo Mori, Tokyo 2020 Games operations bureau deputy executive director, speaks at a press conference in Sapporo in May 2021.

Four people including Yasuo Mori, the former deputy executive director of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s Operations Bureau, were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly violating the Antimonopoly Law in regard to “unreasonable restraint of trade.”

The arrests were made by the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office in connection with bid-rigging allegations involving the planning of test events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The prosecutors believe Mori, 55, and advertising giant Dentsu Inc. led the bid-rigging. They arrested former Dentsu executive Koji Henmi, 55, on the same day. The prosecutors also arrested Yoshiji Kamata, 59, an executive of event company Cerespo Co., which was one of the successful bidders, and Masahiko Fujino, 63, an executive of television production company Fuji Creative Corp.

According to sources, prior to the bidding held by the organizing committee from May to August in 2018 to choose companies to plan test events for the Games, Mori allegedly asked potential bidders about the events they wanted to be in charge of and created a list of potential bidders for each event venue. Mori is said to have shared the list with Dentsu officials and others, prearranging the successful bidders for each event venue with them.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office officials enter the house of former Tokyo Games organizing committee official Yasuo Mori in Kawasaki to conduct a raid on Wednesday morning.

Mori had initially denied any intention of bid-rigging when questioned by the prosecutors, but is said to have recently started to admit the allegations. The prosecutors likely decided that it was necessary to conduct a full-scale investigation to clarify the actual bid-rigging situation.

The Dentsu side is said to be admitting the allegations to the prosecutors.

The bidding was for 26 contracts. Nine companies, including Dentsu and Cerespo, plus one joint venture won bids for the planning of test events that totaled nearly ¥500 million.

The nine companies also signed negotiated contracts with the organizing committee for the subsequent operation of test events, as well as for actual Games events, which totaled about ¥40 billion.

The organizing committee allegedly explained to the companies prior to the bidding that, in principle, contracts for the operation of test events and Games events would be awarded as negotiated contracts. The prosecutors believe that the bid-rigging was conducted under the assumption that the bidding for planning test events would lead to contracts for the operation of Games events. The investigation is expected to cover those contracts as well.

In November, the prosecutors and the Japan Fair Trade Commission raided eight of the nine companies that won the bids on suspicion of violating the Antimonopoly Law. Companies raided include Dentsu, Hakuhodo Inc. and ADK Marketing Solutions Inc. ADK voluntarily reported the violations to the JFTC based on the leniency system under the Antimonopoly Law, which reduces or waives surcharges for self-reported violations.

On Wednesday, prosecutors raided Mori’s house in Kawasaki and Cerespo’s head office in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, among other locations.

Cerespo has a track record of operating athletics events and has been an official sponsor of the Japan Handball League since 2011. In the Games test event planning bids, the company won five contracts, including one for the Yoyogi National Stadium, which hosted the Olympic handball event, totaling approximately ¥115 million, the highest amount among the nine successful bidding companies for the test event planning work. The company’s employees in charge of the project said they did not think they were involved in bid-rigging.