Tokyo prosecutors believe Takeda cannot be pursued in Games corruption case

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Members of the press are seen in front of the apartment building of Tsunekazu Takeda, former president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Sept. 27.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is believed to have decided — due to a lack of objective evidence regarding the acceptance of bribes — that it cannot pursue the criminal responsibility of Tsunekazu Takeda, former president of the Japanese Olympic Committee and vice president of the organizing committee of the Tokyo Games.

The squad has been laboring since spring to uncover the truth of the corruption scandal behind last summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Assisted by prosecutors from across the country, it has questioned about 100 people, including officials of the organizing committee and Dentsu Inc., a major advertising agency responsible for seeking Games sponsors.

According to sources, the special investigation squad also questioned Takeda several times on a voluntary basis to confirm accounts by Haruyuki Takahashi — a former executive board member of the organizing committee — that Takahashi took money from Sun Arrow Inc., a maker of mascot-related goods, to be given to Takeda.

Takeda is said to have strongly denied any involvement in bribery, saying he never received any cash. Takahashi also said he actually did not give any money to Takeda.

The investigation squad is believed to have concluded that Takeda cannot be held criminally responsible because they do not have objective evidence of cash transfers.

“I’m very sorry for causing this problem,” Takeda said in a comment released through his legal counsel Tuesday. He declined to answer questions regarding his questioning by prosecutors.

Takeda is under investigation by French law enforcement in connection with alleged corruption tied to Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Games. French authorities are believed to have launched a so-called preliminary proceeding, the equivalent of a formal investigation, to decide whether to indict Takeda.

In October, the French authorities told The Yomiuri Shimbun that the investigation into Takeda was continuing. However, Takeda said he had not been questioned by French authorities and denied wrongdoing.

The prosecutors also questioned former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, 85, who was the committee’s president.

Takahashi is believed to have introduced Mori to executives of businesswear retailer Aoki Holdings Inc. and other sponsoring companies, and to have had dinner with them. This is believed to have prompted the investigation squad to question Mori on such subjects as the process for choosing sponsors and the “official authority” of committee directors.