• Kyodo


Prosecutors have found evidence suggesting a lawmaker charged with bribery over a proposed casino resort offered money to witnesses to give false testimony in court, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

Prosecutors said they found the fingerprints of House of Representative member Tsukasa Akimoto, 48, on bills he allegedly distributed through an accomplice to bribe the witnesses.

Akimoto, who was involved in crafting legislation for legalizing casino resorts, has been indicted for taking bribes from a Chinese gambling operator and was served a fresh arrest warrant earlier this week for alleged witness tampering.

He was released on bail in February but was taken into custody again on Thursday.

Akimoto is suspected of asking Masahiko Konno, a former adviser to Chinese company 500.com Ltd. who is also facing a bribery charge, to give false testimony in return for ¥30 million ($284,000), in June and July.

Akimoto, who has denied the charges, was a senior vice minister in the Cabinet Office for about a year from September 2017. At that time his role was to oversee the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s initiative to legalize the casinos at the heart of plans to build so-called integrated resorts.

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