An NHK sports reporter informed a Japan Sumo Association official beforehand of a search by Tokyo police in July of locations for evidence of illegal gambling in a scandal that rocked the national sport, NHK alleged Friday.
The reporter, in his 30s, was in the NHK news department’s sports section. He e-mailed via mobile phone a message around midnight July 6 telling the official that searches would take place the following day. The raids were carried out on the morning of July 7.
NHK said it will consider reprimanding the reporter over ethics, while a senior investigator said the police have already questioned the reporter on a voluntary basis and are considering whether his deed constitutes a crime.
The reporter said in the message, “It seems there will be police investigations on several locations tomorrow over the gambling scandal. Sorry if the information turns out to be bogus. Please do not tell anyone about this, since it would be big trouble if it is found that NHK had leaked the information,” NHK said.
The reporter claimed he obtained the investigative information from a journalist outside of NHK, and sent the message “to confirm the fact” and also “to build relations” with the official with whom he was not in contact recently, but received no reply, it said.
The broadcaster has questioned the reporter twice since becoming aware of the incident Wednesday and transferred him to office work the same day, it said, adding its official explained the situation to the police Thursday and the reporter himself did so Friday.
He was in charge of sumo until the summer of last year, and hence was acquainted with the JSA official, and was assigned to cover sumo again in late May as a reserve reporter as the gambling scandal unfolded, NHK added.
The police are believed to have found his message as they scanned dozens of cellular phones seized during the July search for evidence of wrestlers’ illegal gambling, from which messages related to the gambling had been deleted but were partly restored by investigators.
The senior investigator in the Metropolitan Police Department said the police will look into the case to determine if the reporter’s act was a crime.
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