Japanese lawmaker's detention extended in casino-bribery scandal

Friday 3rd January 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A Tokyo court on Friday approved a request from prosecutors that a lawmaker, known as being an advocate of introducing casino resorts in Japan, be detained until Jan. 14 after he was arrested late last year for allegedly receiving bribes from a Chinese gambling operator.

Along with Tsukasa Akimoto, who resigned from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party following his arrest on Dec. 25, the Tokyo District Court also decided to prolong the detention of three people linked to the company, 500.com Ltd., who are suspected of making the bribes.

The 48-year-old House of Representatives lawmaker is suspected of having received 3 million yen ($27,700) in cash from the company in September 2017.

The firm, which was interested in entering the Japanese casino market, is also believed to have invited him to Hokkaido and covered trip expenses totaling around 700,000 yen in February 2018.

Japan recently legalized casinos to be operated at so-called integrated resorts, comprising also of hotels and conference facilities, in hopes of attracting more foreign tourists and helping to buoy the economy after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Akimoto was known as a vocal supporter of legalizing casinos and was in charge of overseeing the government's policy aimed at introducing the resorts when he served as a senior vice minister at the Cabinet Office for about a year through October 2018.

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