More names are surfacing in Japan’s casino bribery case which has shocked the nation and lead to the arrest of the country’s ruling party lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto on Christmas day. Akimoto was arrested following an investigation on his links with a Chinese gambling company that allegedly bribed Akimoto seeking favors during the casino licensing process.
However, following Akimoto’s arrest, more names have surfaced, including Japan’s former defense minister Takeshi Iwaya. The former defense minister is amongst the five lawmakers who have been questioned by prosecutors in connection with the casino bribery scandal.
On Saturday, upon questioning, Iwaya denied involvement in the casino bribery scandal. When asked if he had received 1 million Yen from the Nasdaq listed gambling operator 500.com, he said that he didn’t.
“I never received money,” Iwaya, told reporters.
The other elected lawmakers of the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party have also denied allegations of receiving any money from 500.com. Hiroyuki Nakamura, 58, a member of the ruling party, has also admitted that he was questioned by the prosecution but has denied taking any money.
The name of five other lawmakers apart from Tsukasa Akimoto surfaced when a suspect, Katsunori Nakazato, 47, who is arrested for making the bribes said that he had paid 1 million yen each to the five lawmakers back in September 2017, which is about the same time he paid Akimoto.
Japan’s casino gambling industry, while it is still in its infant stage, is marred by the bribery scandal. However, this has not deterred the government and it is firm with its casino expansion plan despite opposition from various groups.
On Friday, a Tokyo court also extended the detention upon the request of the prosecutors until Jan 14. While the investigations are ongoing, it is expected that more arrests could follow. The casino bribery scandal has exposed the nexus between lawmakers and gambling operators.