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Top prosecutor tenders resignation over mahjong gambling scandal

24 Comments

A top Japanese prosecutor thought to be favored by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office tendered his resignation on Thursday after a report that he played mahjong for money with reporters earlier this month, defying social distancing guidelines introduced to fight the novel coronavirus.

Hiromu Kurokawa has admitted to the allegations and asked to step down as chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, Justice Minister Masako Mori told reporters, adding the cabinet will accept the resignation on Friday.

According to the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine report, Kurokawa played mahjong with two reporters of the Sankei Shimbun newspaper and an employee of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on May 1 and May 13.

A nationwide state of emergency came into effect in April and remains in place in some areas including Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, with people being asked to stay at home and avoid close contact with others.

Kurokawa's resignation is a fresh setback for Abe, who has ridden out a string of money and favoritism scandals since his return to power in late 2012.

The magazine's report, released Wednesday night in its online edition ahead of the print version hitting newsstands Thursday, had sparked calls from the ruling and opposition parties -- and even some within the judicial branch -- for Kurokawa to step down.

It also set social media abuzz with tweets bearing a Japanese hashtag demanding that he be dismissed as a disciplinary step. Abe told reporters on Thursday that the Justice Ministry was looking into the matter and he had yet to be briefed on the details.

Kurokawa drew attention in January when the Cabinet allowed him to remain in his post even after he turned 63, the retirement age for prosecutors, amid speculation the government was looking for him to succeed Prosecutor General Nobuo Inada, who is expected to retire in July.

After critics pointed out this likely violated a law regarding the Public Prosecutors Office, the government and ruling coalition sought to revise the law to raise the retirement age to 65, a highly controversial move that sparked a public backlash led by celebrities on Twitter.

While the government and ruling coalition said Monday they were shelving the controversial legislation during the current Diet session, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference Thursday that it was a necessary change that would be pursued in the future.

Kurokawa may face criminal charges as Japanese law prohibits unauthorized gambling, which is punishable with a fine of up to 500,000 yen. But the letter of the law is somewhat ambiguous as it treats small bets that are one-off or infrequent as exceptions.

In January 2017, the mayor and deputy mayor of the city of Iizuka in Fukuoka Prefecture resigned after they were found to have played mahjong for money while on the job. But prosecutors chose not to indict them as they only played once or twice a month, and gambled around 10,000 yen on each occasion.

Seiji Osaka, policy chief of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters on Thursday it was "a matter of course" for Kurokawa to resign and that the Abe administration should also be held accountable.

© KYODO

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
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30-45 degree bow, token fine, resignation with full benefits, then assigned to some committee for justice or gambling as vice-chairman; or special advisor to the commission on integrated gambling resorts.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Resignation will not be approved. He will be indicted.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

That's a serious "breech of trust" by a man who was being held up as potentially being the decision maker for the inquisition dept. Played with reporters? What a idiot. Oh well can see a certain piece of legislation going from the shelf into a draw.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

He broke the law so he should be fired. Why should we have to pay him a huge pension?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Very timely, considering Abe's push for reform in the prosecutor's realm.

I suspect something, but I don't quite know what.

gary

4 ( +4 / -0 )

LOL I love many things about Japan but this is madness.

I bet my friends a chu hi once for Superbowl pick. Should I lose my job. Lol what a joke

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Hiromu Kurokawa, chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, played mahjong with two reporters of the Sankei Shimbun newspaper and an employee of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on May 1 and May 13

One has to be naive to think that a Media that is gaming, dining, golfing and drinking with government officials and expecting them to be independent and critical of the government.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The "talking heads" on the wide shows and news have been talking about this, and to me it just seems like they found an out to have him resign and lessen the amount of egg that is on Abe's face

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Resignation will not be approved. He will be indicted

Indicted for what? Playing mahjong? You gotta be kidding!. Playing mahjong here is on the level of betting on golf, technically illegal, but everyone does it!

This is far from a "scandal", the scandal is Abe's trying to push through raising the retirement age .

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So no bail ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Justice Minister Masako Mori said the results of the probe will be released in the evening, along with "strict disciplinary measures" for Kurokawa."

Yeah, meaning time for him to prep for a plum amakudari job.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Storm in a cup of tea.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Actually, I am not surprised. When a person thinks that he is in power and has the support of the prime-minister in this case, ( It is just like a new c.o.o of any company that thinks that he has the support of the share-holders )he can do anything that he wants. Fortunately, as we can see....................................this kind of arrogant actions are not allowed. Bravo to good Japanese people.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Prosecutor playing with newspapers reporters...

A convenient opportunity for a few leakages maybe...?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Mah jong. Ping pong. He's gambling, playing games, while at work. Your tax dollars at work for someone who isn't working. He needs to be deep-sixed. It is convenient.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

And the newspaper reporters who obviously reported him have had what repercussions?

Or are they swept under the carpet, or paid to go away or now they have hit the selected target got promotion or what , they also were in involved in illegal activity so NO BAIL for them too or what ? Report the whole case FFS, or is it another snow job by the media ?

like the love hotel sham?

'/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Resignation will not be approved. He will be indicted.

He broke the law so he should be fired.

Indicted for what? And what law did he break?

He went against guidelines, but there was no law that I know of saying people weren't allowed to meet.

What this guy did appears to be socially unacceptable not legally.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Meeting is ok but playing mahjong for cash is a crime no

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Meeting is ok but playing mahjong for cash is a crime no

Technically so is jaywalking.

Read the article - this one's not really a crime. Some people may see it technically as one, but it would never get through the court system here.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Richard GallagherToday 07:55 pm JSTMah jong. Ping pong. He's gambling, playing games, while at work. Your tax dollars at work for someone who isn't working. He needs to be deep-sixed. It is convenient.

I play video mahjong a lot but not on the job. This guy is playing games at work - with media people? Big dummy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Should be extra punishment for someone who should know better...

but naa it's Japan and he's friend with Abe so it'll be a few bows and 'regret' while he shuffles off with a gold-plated pension

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This will be wiped off the news just like every other Abe scandel...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kurokawa was the guy in charge for the Ghosn case and Abe was trying to reward him for services rendered.

Just shows how corrupt the Tokyo prosecutors office is. A pawn of the government.

Good riddance and kudos to all those Japanese who outed Abe on this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The timing of all of this sure is curious...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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