National

Olympic Village subcontractor had ties to yakuza gang, Tokyo police say

JIJI

A construction company with suspected ties to a yakuza gang participated as a subcontractor in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic athletes’ village project, it was learned Friday.

The Metropolitan Police Department has arrested yakuza group boss Mitsunobu Hiroo, 70, and three others on suspicion of illegally dispatching workers to the company, based in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture.

The Tokyo police are also set to send papers on the company to the public prosecutor, according to informed sources.

The construction company is suspected of receiving workers from the gang group for public works in Kawaguchi and Toda, also in Saitama Prefecture, between February and July.

In addition, the firm is believed to have accepted workers dispatched by the suspects for the athletes village project in the Harumi waterfront district of Tokyo’s Chuo Ward.

The suspects recruited homeless people and sent them to construction sites and other workplaces, police sources said. They pocketed as much as about 30 percent of the workers’ wages.

“It’s not easy to fully exclude yakuza from such a large project with strict deadlines,” said lawyer Takashi Ozaki, who is familiar with civil cases involving yakuza.

“The big national project may become a major funding source for gangs unless all companies in the project think seriously about excluding gangs,” Ozaki warned.