FILE PHOTO: Dentsu's logo is seen at its head office building in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO: Dentsu's logo is seen at its head office building in Tokyo Japan, August 9, 2019. Picture taken on August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo Photo: Reuters/KIM KYUNG-HOON

Prosecutors raid Dentsu in widening Tokyo Olympic probe

By Yuri Kageyama

Japanese prosecutors raided the headquarters of major advertising company Dentsu on Friday, as the investigation into corruption related to the Tokyo Olympics widened.

Major local TV broadcasters showed Tokyo District Prosecutors and Japan Fair Trade Commission officials entering Dentsu headquarters.

Dentsu dominates event organizing, marketing and public relations in Japan. It helped land the 2020 Games for Tokyo, and then lined up record domestic sponsorships.

Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at Dentsu, has been arrested four times in recent months on charges of receiving bribes from various companies that became sponsors for the Games.

The latest investigation centers around bid-rigging for companies to be picked to work on test events, according to Japanese media reports. The test events started in 2018, spanning various sports including sailing and weightlifting, to prepare for the Olympics. Being chosen for test events is critical to being picked for actual Olympic venues.

The money that exchanged hands for the bid-rigging totaled 500 million yen, involving nine companies and one organization, according to the newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun and other reports.

The companies involved in the earlier sponsorship scandal include Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that dressed Japan's Olympic team, and Sun Arrow, which produced the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic mascots named Miraitowa and Someity.

Takahashi, in custody since August, had tremendous influence over running the Olympics. The bribes he is alleged to have taken total more than 190 million yen.

"We continue to fully cooperate with this investigation," Dentsu's corporate communications office said in a statement.

Cerespo, an event company that Japanese reports said also was raided on suspicion of involvement in bid-rigging, did not have an immediate comment.

Tokyo prosecutors do not comment on such daily news developments. But Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Morimoto told reporters recently that the investigation was continuing on the Olympics.

Speculation has been growing the burgeoning scandal may tarnish Japan's bid for the 2030 Winter Games. The 2020 Games were postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee has said it's watching Japan's investigation, stressing it had "every interest in the full clarification of this case."

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Tokyo prosecutors and Japan's Fair Trade Commission suspect that Dentsu may have colluded with other firms over the bidding for Olympic test events, which could constitute a violation of anti-monopoly laws, media said.

Violation of anti-monopoly laws is most probably the least of Dentsu's crimes, and probably most of the influence peddling and bid-rigging and crony corporate welfare are not even technically "crimes", no matter how much the public suffer for the enrichment of dentsu execs.

Spin the roulette wheel of: Move along , nothing to see here.

Some irregularities, apologies, bows, 3 months of 30 percent reduction in salary.

As much as it could signal a sea change and immense benefit to the Japanese public if it expanded to include LDP collusion, there is zero faith in the Tokyo prosecutors.

Anyone with reason to be more positive?

10 ( +24 / -14 )

It's about time they bring down this major disease of a company.

15 ( +21 / -6 )

Now things are becoming very interesting, I am not optimistic enough to think the full corruption will be brought into the light, but there is always a small chance...

17 ( +20 / -3 )

The political purge against the Abe faction has begun. I knew it was merely a matter of time that Dentsu will get hit once Abe is out of the picture.

-2 ( +22 / -24 )

It was only a matter of time. Another corrupt company involved in profiting from the worst, most crooked and most pathetic Olympics in world history.

Fingers crossed Dentsu is bankrupted.

14 ( +20 / -6 )

This could be interesting.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Wow, someone is probably on the phone with Kishida, from Dentsu right now.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Will it create a political consciousness? Probably not. Will it show those with a political consciousness more about the country? Probably not. But the details could be interesting.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

The political purge against the Abe faction has begun. I knew it was merely a matter of time that Dentsu will get hit once Abe is out of the picture.

If you haven't noticed, Abe has been out of the picture for a while now, hence the guano getting tossed about.

Dentsu is too big and powerful to be taken down, and the worst case scenario for them, is some executive gets fed to the media sharks, and the company gets fined, a major "gomen" press conference, and back to business as usual.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Anyone in custody while they investigate.....?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Punishment: They will take away the use of the Toyota Centuries for 6 months, and the Dentsu execs will have to ride in Crowns instead. How shameful.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

After all the news about Dentsu, they had plenty of time to run that shredder 24/7.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Why Japanese do not get ahead,it not what you know,but who you need to bribe, American can be prosecuted for giving bribe in a foreign country

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Perhaps the prosecutors only just realised that it was a good idea to raid Dentsu.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I hope that Dentsu and its related persons will be fined enormously.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Here's hoping something will come out of this, but I'm afraid the managers at Dentsu started destroying everything as soon as that other company got in trouble, bc they knew what was coming...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Or is this just a show to give the impression that the government is tough on Denstsu, while allowing the company to do whatever it likes?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I’m sure the week’s notice they had before the raid have them time to order some new shredders.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

a bit late for the raid, only an idiot would still have evidence of their crime after months and months of publicity about bid-rigging

4 ( +5 / -1 )

About time. Though I doubt much will result other than some deep bows and ‘regrets’.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They have already left that building!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stop taking things out on Dentsu! Japan wanted the Olympics someone has to get their hands dirty. Suck it up Japanese general public.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Perhaps someone at the prosecutor's office found all the months of posts on JT saying, "What about Dentsu?" and reported it to his superiors and they had a meeting and thought, "Yeah, wait a minute, that's a good idea. We might find something there, if we look. Let's do it."

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan wanted the Olympics someone has to get their hands dirty. Suck it up Japanese general public.

The majority of the Japanese general public did not want to Olympics. They also have a right to investigate corruption. Nobody should just ‘suck it up’.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Classic example of 'who's been caught with their snouts in the trough'...... followed by a smokescreen investigation which will end up with some lower-order players receiving 'very grave warnings' for which very deep bows will suffice - job done.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Great, Great News !!!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It’s all just for show! “ All bark and no bite “ so to speak ! No specific culprit will be charged or they’ll just do a deep bow, apologize and case closed!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have a strong suspicion that if Abe were still alive, none of these Olympic-related corruption investigations would have happened.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Whose holding their breath? Not me.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Nothing better could happen, as they surely get generously compensated afterwards for this current unkind disturbances. They are much too big to fail as that could bring them any minus. They will get a big bunch of new orders and come out of that farce with another big profit instead.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Better late than never…I guess!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Anyone in custody while they investigate.....?

Of course not, they are Japanese.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Someone misplaced the brown envelope for the prosecutor's office.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It’s almost like “Dentsu” is Japanese for “corruption.”

Do these people not understand the idea of repetitional risk?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Pretty sure any shred of wrongdoing has been destroyed by now.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A distraction of convenience.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Everyone knew about this, but kept silent for three years, including most media reporting. If this is indeed a change of stance since Abe's death, I hope they will start digging into the olympic village construction as well. That was covered by Swedish media, but everyone kept silent about here in Japan. I won't go into the details, as the moderator will remove the post as off-topic, so let's just say that there were a lot of Yakuza related deaths in involved among the construction workers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They should raid most governmental agencies and ministries as all the evidence you need it there.

Last year, before the Olympics there were several pieces on TV from (former) members of Olympic-related committees telling about how money was being spaffed around to un-necessary "intermediaries" , or thrown at more expensive stuff or solutions than needed with Dentsu's name pretty much always appearing in the interviews / documents leaked (unsurprisingly all interviewees had their faces hidden and voices deformed).

Dentsu also systematically appeared in leaked documentation showing that while even governmental agencies and ministries staff in charge of Olympic and non-Olympic related governmental projects ranked Dentsu's offers as either or both too expensive or inferior to those of other candidates, the persons in higher positions (ministers or cabinet as a whole) overruled their opinions and still chose Dentsu in simply too many and too dubious cases.

Everybody in the country knows that Dentsu and the LDP are pretty much one and the same, and that both are pilfering public treasury. Both should be exposed and disbanded, as crime is not the "exception", no, crime IS the "business".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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