The government appointed Makoto Hayashi as head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor's Office effective Tuesday, after former chief Hiromu Kurokawa stepped down over a gambling scandal.
Hayashi, 62, who was head of the Nagoya High Public Prosecutor's Office prior to the appointment, took on the No. 2 job for prosecutors and is expected to later succeed Nobuo Inada as prosecutor-general, the top position.
Hayashi became a prosecutor in 1983. He served as chief prosecutor at the Sendai District Public Prosecutor's Office and director-general of the Criminal Affairs Bureau at the Justice Ministry before attaining his position at the Nagoya office in January 2018.
Hayashi and Kurokawa began formal legal training in the same year. Hayashi had been considered a potential successor to Inada along with Kurokawa, as during his time as head of the ministry's Criminal Affairs Bureau he was instrumental in the government's push to pass a controversial anti-conspiracy bill calling for the criminalization of planning and preparing acts of terrorism and other serious offenses before they are committed.
The change of personnel came after the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine reported that Kurokawa played mahjong for money with newspaper reporters on May 1 and May 13, during the state of emergency declared by the government over the coronavirus outbreak. Kurokawa resigned Friday after admitting to gambling in an investigation by the Justice Ministry.
Kurokawa was set to retire in February after reaching the retirement age of 63, but the Cabinet decided in late January to extend his retirement by half a year. Opposition parties and the public criticized the move, as it was seen as an attempt to set Kurokawa up for an arbitrary promotion to the prosecutor-general post. Kurokawa is seen to be close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration.
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