Wind Power Firm President Admits to Bribing Lawmaker

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An investigator carries materials from the residence of Japan Wind Power Development President Masayuki Tsukawaki in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Aug. 5.

The president of a Tokyo-based wind power company has admitted to allegations he paid bribes to House of Representatives member Masatoshi Akimoto, according to sources.

Masatoshi Akimoto

Around 2019, Japan Wind Development Co. President Masayuki Tsukawaki allegedly gave about ¥30 million to Akimoto, who left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party when the allegations emerged.

Tsukawaki, 64, allegedly established a racehorse ownership group with Akimoto and another person, contributing a total of approximately ¥30 million between October 2021 to June 2023. Of that total, Tsukawaki allegedly gave Akimoto about ¥10 million in cash in October 2022.

Tsukawaki initially denied the allegations in voluntary questioning. “The funds I provided were used to purchase horses and feed. I have a 45% stake in the joint ownership and merely performed my obligation as a member of the group,” he reportedly said.

However, the president’s lawyer told The Yomiuri Shimbun on Friday that Tsukawaki had changed his mind and he has admitted that the payments constituted “bribes to lawmaker Akimoto.”

According to the lawyer, investigators have even probed Japan Wind Development’s business partners, which prompted Tsukawaki “to accept the charges to protect his company and business partners.”

According to sources, Tsukawaki told investigators Friday, “The racehorse ownership group was owned by lawmaker Akimoto,” which is contrary to his previous statement that the group was jointly owned and that he held a 45% stake.

Tsukawaki is also suspected of giving ¥30 million to Akimoto when the lawmaker registered to become an individual racehorse owner with the Japan Racing Association (JRA) in July 2019.

Prospective owners are required to have “assets equivalent to at least ¥75 million.” It is believed that Akimoto needed the money to meet the registration requirement.

The amount was allegedly repaid with interest about half a year later.

Tsukawaki’s company planned to launch offshore wind power generation projects off the coast of Aomori and Akita prefectures, among other locations.

It was involved in a bid to develop an offshore project in Akita Prefecture that would have been the company’s first large-scale project, but the firm lost out to a consortium in December 2021 that planned to charge a much lower price for the electricity generated.

During a Diet debate in February 2022, Akimoto said, “I would like to request a review of the evaluation method in future bids.”

The lawmaker has asked questions related to the company’s projects on several occasions in the Diet.

On Aug. 4 and 5, the special investigation squad searched Akimoto’s home and office, and the head office of Japan Wind Development. The firm’s sales offices in the Tohoku region were also searched, according to the sources.