Brokers held over bogus marriages to South Koreans

Kyodo News

A pair of marriage brokers who allegedly made huge profits arranging bogus nuptials between Japanese and South Koreans have been apprehended, police said Friday.

The suspects are Hironaka Akiba, 62, and Setsuko Atsuhata, 50, who is also a Christian missionary, according to police. The pair, both from Tokyo, run branch offices of the Hallelujah marriage agency chain.

A fresh arrest warrant has been served on Akiba, who was already under arrest in a separate criminal case, while an investigative report on Atsuhata has been sent to prosecutors for possible indictment, police said.

Both Akiba and Atsuhata are suspected of tendering a bogus marriage statement on a 52-year-old Japanese man and a 37-year-old South Korean woman to a ward office in Tokyo last November and of leading public officials to make a false entry in electronic family records so the woman could obtain long-term resident status in Japan, police said.

The Penal Code sets penalties of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to ¥500,000 for such an act.

Investigators suspect the pair arranged about 300 false marriages between Japanese and South Koreans since around 1988 and earned about ¥300 million, police sources said.

The suspects allegedly collected ¥1.5 million per couple, of which ¥500,000 was paid to the Japanese partner in the false marriage, the sources said.

Atsuhata put ads in South Korean free newspapers to recruit Korean partners for false marriages with Japanese.

In Tokyo, she recruited homeless men as Japanese partners, the sources said.