National / Crime & Legal

Japanese Olympic snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo suspected of smuggling cannabis from U.S.

JIJI

Former Japanese Olympic snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo was arrested Wednesday for allegedly smuggling cannabis from the United States for profit.

The narcotics control department of the Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare also searched his home the same day.

According to the department, Kokubo, 31, a resident of Chitose, Hokkaido, appeared at the department’s office building in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward in the morning.

He largely admitted to the allegations against him but denied any intention of making profits, informed sources said.

Kokubo is suspected of conspiring with a male acquaintance to smuggle about 57 grams of a cannabis product from the United States in December 2018, using an international express mail service.

The mail with cannabis was detected at customs at Narita International Airport near Tokyo. It was addressed to a place linked to the acquaintance in the city of Musashimurayama, western Tokyo.

The man, in his 30s, was arrested last month. He has been indicted for violating the cannabis control law.

Kokubo emerged as another suspect during the investigation of the man.

Kokubo made his Olympic debut at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. He also participated in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in Canada, finishing eighth in the men’s halfpipe event.

At the 2010 Games, he provoked criticism for his style of dress and behavior. The Ski Association of Japan temporarily asked for his withdrawal.

He later served as a technical adviser for Japan’s national snowboard team and performed as a professional snowboarder.

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