Japanese consultant found guilty of taking Tokyo Olympics bribes

04 July 2023 Consultancy.asia 2 min. read

Joji Matsui, a consultant in Japan, has been found guilty of receiving bribes from companies seeking sponsorships and licensing opportunities for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Despite the guilty verdict and the sentence to two years in prison, Joji Matsui will not be serving any jail time. Matsui is the former boss of Amuse Consulting, a boutique consultancy firm based in Japan. He has now been suspended from conducting professional activities in the coming four years.

Several other Japanese officials, including Hironori Aoki, founder of Aoki Holdings, and his brother Takahisa Aoki, have been arrested for alleged misconduct. Haruyuki Takahashi, a board member of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, faces similar accusations of receiving large illicit sums from companies.

Japanese consultant found guilty of taking Tokyo Olympics bribes

Takahashi, in his indictments, is accused of receiving over 50 million yen from Aoki Holdings, around 76 million yen from Kadokawa, and about 15 million yen from an advertising agency.

Matsui, reported to be Takahashi’s longtime golfing partner, has been indicted for receiving approximately 27 million yen, with the funds believed to have been redirected to Takahashi, said the ruling of Tokyo District Court.

During the trial, Matsui admitted his guilt, but his lawyers contended that he was merely following orders from Takahashi. Takahashi has meanwhile denied all allegations against him.

According to the prosecutions opening statement, Matsui was asked in January 2015 by his high school friend and former Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda to allow him to use an account under the name of Amuse Consulting for commercial transactions related to the Olympics.

A total of about 27 million yen was deposited into Amuse Consulting’s account from ADK Holdings and Sun Arrow, other cover-up entities that were also dragged into the scandal.

In questioning the defendant, Matsui testified about the funds from the two companies, saying, “I thought it was absolute bribery and a malicious scheme.” He said at the time Takeda refused to accept his own initial offer because he was under investigation by the French authorities over suspicions about the bid.

The International Olympic Committee has said it is closely watching Japan’s investigation, stressing it has “every interest in the full clarification of this case”.

The timing of the scandal couldn’t be worse for Japan, as the country is bidding for the Winter Games 2030. If Japan wins the bid, the country will host the Olympic Games in Sapporo.