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Three people who allegedly staged a sham Imperial wedding reception were arrested Tuesday and accused of defrauding their guests, many of them celebrities, out of 13 million yen.

Yasuyuki Kitano, 41, a Kyoto resident and groom at the wedding, has claimed to hold the Imperial title of Prince Arisugawa for about 15 years and called himself Satohito Arisugawa. But the Metropolitan Police Department said it has confirmed with the Imperial Household Agency that Kitano is not related to the Arisugawa family.

Also arrested were Harumi Sakamoto, 45, who posed as Kitano’s bride at the lavish party, and Shinya Kusunoki, 42, an executive of the company that organized the event.

Police also searched Sakamoto’s apartment in Tokyo.

Investigators alleged that Kitano and Sakamoto first met last October and became acquainted with Kusunoki at a friend’s dinner party in December. They later hatched a plan to swindle people out of money by staging a bogus wedding, police said.

The three denied committing any fraud, according to police.

The Arisugawa family originated from Prince Yoshihito, the son of Emperor Goyozei, in 1625 and continued for 10 generations for about 300 years. But the family lineage ended when the 10th generation head, Prince Takehito (1862-1913), had no male heir. The Takamatsu family of the Imperial clan currently handles the ceremonial duties of the Arisugawas.

According to a police investigation, the three held the wedding party on April 6 in Tokyo’s Minato Ward and named it “Prince Arisugawa’s celebration dinner banquet.” Sakamoto and Kitano are not married but posed as newlyweds.

They allegedly bilked about 360 guests out of 13 million yen in cash gifts. Guests were also charged 10,000 yen for each photo taken with the couple.

Police said the three had sent invitations to 2,000 people at the beginning of this year. Among the 400 who attended the party were celebrities, former members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and members of a rightwing group in Tokyo. Kitano became the honorary head of the group last October but resigned early this month.

Kitano established a political group in 1990 named after Prince Arisugawa. Calling himself Satohito Arisugawa, he registered the group with the then Ministry of Home Affairs as the group’s representative.

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