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Editorial: Growing Tokyo Games corruption scandal demands thorough probe

Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, has been slapped with yet another arrest warrant on suspicion of receiving bribes in connection with the selection of Games sponsors.

    Takahashi was earlier served two arrest warrants over the widening corruption scandal, and suspicions are growing that the Tokyo Games, supposedly a "festival of peace," were in fact tarnished by a series of bribes. It is imperative to thoroughly investigate the cases to unravel what brought about this dismal state of affairs.

    The latest allegations accuse Takahashi of receiving some 15 million yen (about $104,000) in return for giving favors to Daiko Advertising Inc. to allow it to join the process of securing sponsors for the Games.

    Takahashi has already been charged with accepting bribes respectively from business clothing giant Aoki Holdings Inc. and major publisher Kadokawa Corp. over Olympic sponsorship deals.

    He is additionally suspected to have extended favors to another ad agency for it to be included in the sponsorship selection process. On top of this, the former executive allegedly received some 8 million yen (approx. $55,000) from a company responsible for selling the Games' officially licensed stuffed toys.

    The ever-growing graft scandal leaves us appalled. The total amount of bribes Takahashi is so far suspected to have taken tops 140 million yen (approx. $970,000).

    The Tokyo Games organizing committee is gravely responsible for failing to prevent this corruption scandal. It would be intolerable to leave its responsibility unaddressed on the grounds that the committee was dissolved in June.

    The organizing committee entirely entrusted advertising giant Dentsu Inc. to acquire sponsors for the Games, and many Dentsu employees were temporarily assigned to committee departments in charge of this task. Takahashi, a former senior managing director for Dentsu, apparently wielded strong influence on his former employer.

    It was under such arrangements that the process to select sponsors took place. The committee's executive board was apparently only briefed after everything was settled.

    Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who chaired the organizing committee, is being questioned by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation unit as a witness in relation to the scandal. Mori is said to have been present when Takahashi met with officials from Aoki Holdings and Kadokawa.

    In spite of this, there have been no moves to inspect the committee's management system, which is simply beyond comprehension.

    House of Councillors member Seiko Hashimoto, who replaced Mori as committee president after he stepped down over sexist gaffes, only commented that she was "surprised" after Takahashi was first arrested.

    Neither the Japanese Olympic Committee nor the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, both responsible for setting up the organizing committee, has shown any interest in launching a probe into the bribery allegations.

    Doubts over the management of the Tokyo Games are only growing deeper. The Japanese government, which aggressively pushed to host the world sporting event, is responsible for getting to the bottom of the scandal.

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