• Kyodo


A lawmaker charged with bribery was re-arrested Thursday by prosecutors for allegedly offering witnesses money to falsely testify in court in connection with a casino graft scandal.

In a rare development, Tsukasa Akimoto, a 48-year-old House of Representatives member, was re-arrested while out on bail after being indicted for receiving ¥7.6 million ($72,000) worth of bribes from Chinese gambling operator 500.com in 2017 and 2018 when he was in charge of Japan's move to legalize casino resorts.

Akimoto, who left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party shortly before his initial arrest in December, denied the latest allegation when he was reached by reporters before being re-arrested.

He is suspected of asking a former adviser to 500.com, who had also been released on bail, to give false testimony in return for ¥30 million through his supporters in June and July, according to the prosecutors.

The prosecutors earlier this month arrested three of Akimoto's supporters and looked into his involvement.

The former 500.com adviser, 48-year-old Masahiko Konno, has been indicted on a charge of bribery along with another adviser to the company.

Akimoto, the first incumbent lawmaker to be indicted in a decade, resumed working as a lawmaker from February after being released on bail.

The Tokyo native became an Upper House lawmaker in July 2004 and then a Lower House lawmaker in 2012. He oversaw an initiative that legalized casinos to be operated in Japan at so-called integrated resorts with hotels and conference facilities as a senior vice minister in the Cabinet Office for about a year from September 2017.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.