Kadokawa Chair, Vice-Chair Resign After Alleged Olympic Sponsorship Bribery

In Olympic Games

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Kadokawa announced on Wednesday that it has accepted the resignation offers from its board chair Tsuguhiko Kadokawa and vice-chair Masaki Matsubara. The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office had indicted the chair on Tuesday for alleged bribery over sponsorship for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The company also announced that it established a Corporate Governance Inspection Committee to investigate the matter and to propose measures to prevent similar issues in the future. The committee members are experts from outside the company to avoid any conflict of interest,

In a press conference in the afternoon, the company’s president Takeshi Natsuno and other executives apologized for the matter and introduced the Corporate Governance Inspection Committee. Despite stepping down from their chair and vice-chair positions, respectively, Tsuguhiko Kadokawa and Matsubara remain as board members of the company. The company has not appointed a new board chair or vice-chair.

Tsuguhiko Kadokawa‘s Arrest

Tsuguhiko Kadokawa was arrested on September 14 on suspicion of bribing a former member of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics organizing committee. Prosecutors said the company Kadokawa had continued to deny the allegations since Tsuguhiko Kadokawa‘s arrest.

The company is suspected of paying around 69 million yen (about US$480,000) to a consultancy linked to Haruyuki Takahashi (78), who was arrested in August on suspicion of accepting bribes from companies to secure their sponsorship for the Games.

The firm belonged to Kazumasa Fukami (73), who once worked together with Takahashi at Dentsu Inc. before Takahashi became a member of the Olympic organizing committee. Takahashi allegedly used his network of contacts at Dentsu, which the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee commissioned to select and handle the sponsors, to secure Kadokawa‘s position.

Kadokawa became an “official supporter” of the Games in April 2019, and published the official programmes (pictured right) and results books. According to sources linked to the investigation, Kadokawa signed a deal with the consultancy to pay 69 million yen in 10 installments starting from May 2019. A portion of the money is believed to have been transferred to Takahashi.

Other Kadokawa-Related and Olympics-Related Arrests

Former Kadokawa executive Toshiyuki Yoshihara (64) and former senior official Kyо̄ji Maniwa (63) were arrested on September 6 as part of the ongoing scandal. Prosecutors raided Kadokawa‘s head office, the home of board chair Kadokawa, and the above-mentioned consulting firm. Tokyo’s Special Investigation Team had not revealed whether the four individuals confirmed or denied the charges. Yoshihara and Maniwa were indicted on September 27.

Takahashi was arrested in August on suspicion of accepting 51 million yen (about US$363,000) in bribes from clothing company Aoki Holdings Inc. The Osaka-based advertising firm Daiko has also come under scrutiny for paying at least 14 million yen (about US$99,600) to the firm.

Japan Times previously reported that Kadokawa Chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa claimed to reporters the money was just a consultancy fee and that there was “absolutely no recognition on his part that the money constituted a bribe.”

NHK reported that, according to sources linked to the investigation, Takahashi denied charges of bribery, while Aoki Holdings founder Hironori Aoki admitted to it.

Tsuguhiko Kadokawa‘s father Genyoshi founded Kadokawa Shoten as a publishing company in 1945. Tsuguhiko Kadokawa joined the company in 1966 and rose through the ranks before resigning as vice-president in 1992. He then founded the MediaWorks company. He returned to Kadokawa Shoten as president in 1993 after the former president, his brother Haruki, was arrested on drug charges. (Kadokawa Shoten later acquired Media Works and eventually shortened its name to just Kadokawa.)

Source: Kadokawa (press conference)

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