Disgraced House of Representatives member Tsukasa Akimoto has been arrested by Japanese authorities for a fourth time on charges of violating organized crime laws. This latest arrest is related to suspicions Akimoto coerced parties connected to Chinese online gaming firm 500.com into providing false testimony.
It is the second allegation of violating organized crime laws leveled against the 48-year-old, who was arrested on similar charges on 20 August when it was alleged he offered cash in exchange for providing false testimony in an ongoing court case regarding bribes provided by 500.com. The Chinese company had been looking to invest in an integrated resort in Japan.
According to those involved in the case, the target of bribery that has led to Akimoto’s latest arrest was Katsunori Nakazato, a former advisor to 500.com and one of the defendants in the ongoing court case. The other defendant, Masahiko Konno, was the central figure relating to Akimoto’s previous arrest in August.
Akimoto is alleged to have contacted an acquaintance named Daisuke Matsuura on several occasions and requested he give Nakazato money to provide false testimony.
Matsuura said at a dinner meeting with Nakazato in June that he would “take care of him for life.” In July, an acquaintance of Matsuura, Kazuhiro Miyatake, is alleged to have tried to hand over JPY5 million (US$47,000) to Nakazato. Matsuura has admitted to this series of events and said it was a request from Akimoto.
One of Akimoto’s supporters, Akito Awaji, and others are alleged to have attempted to give a total of JPY30 million (US$283,000) to Konno between June and July.
Akimoto was first arrested in relation to the IR bribery case in December 2019 and again in January of this year.
The entire saga dates back to 2017 when the two 500.com advisors are alleged to have offered bribes to Akimoto in an attempt to win favor in their pursuit of a license to develop an integrated resort in Japan. At the time, Akimoto was a Cabinet Office Deputy Minister in charge of IRs.