Disgraced former House of Representatives member Tsukasa Akimoto has announced he will not run in the upcoming diet election as he continues his appeal against a four-year prison sentence.
Akimoto was sentenced to prison and fined JPY 7.58 million (US$66,500) after being found guilty of bribery and violation of the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes in relation to Japan’s efforts to develop its first integrated resorts.
On 7 September the Tokyo District Court acknowledged that he had received a total of JPY 7.58 million, including travel expenses and JPY 3 million (US$26,000) in cash, from 500.com, a China-based online gaming company that had been looking to bid for IR development in Japan. It was also judged that Akimoto initiated attempts to bribe witnesses in the case in exchange for false testimony.
Akimoto was deputy minister of the cabinet office responsible for IR at the time of his initial transgressions.
The district court said at the time, “He is not the least bit law-abiding, never mind [having an] ethical perspective as a public servant.”
Akimoto launched his appeal on the same day.
In a statement addressing his decision not to run in the diet election, the 49-year-old said, “For the past 17 years, everyone has supported me and helped me grow. I have worked with everything I’ve got to develop Japan and Koto Ward (Tokyo), my own hometown. However, you really never know what will befall you in life. I have voluntarily resigned from the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) in order to avoid causing trouble to the party as a result of my involvement in this incident.”
Akimoto had formally request understanding from the LDP that he would run in Tokyo’s 15th district as an independent, but the LDP instead opted to provide their support for two other candidates. He explained that because fighting with the LDP would negate his principles and his work up to this point, he reached the decision to forego the election this time around.
Akimoto continues to claim his innocence saying, “I am sure I will be found not guilty in the second trial, and after the trial is over I will rejoin the party and prepare for the next election.”