Japan lawmaker admits to receiving 1 mil yen from 500.com

Japanese lawmaker Takaki Shirasuka has admitted to receiving 1 million yen (US$9,300) from 500.com whilst visiting the company’s headquarters in 2017, according to a report by Kyodo News.

The revelation forms part of a bribery scandal involving Chinese gambling company, 500.com, and former Cabinet Office state minister Tsukasa Akimoto, which at the time, was in charge of IR policymaking.

Akimoto was indicted on bribery charges for accepting a total of 7.6 million yen from the Chinese company from 2017 to 2018, which was allegedly used to pay off supporters in his reelection campaign. 

At the time of Akimoto’s arrest, two other lawmakers had their offices raided, one of them being Shirasuka, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Shirasuka is said to have accompanied Akimoto whilst visiting the headquarters of 500.com in Shenzhen and a casino in Macau in 2017, where he accepted payment of expenses by the firm and the covering of his gambling chips. 

Prosecutors have decided not to build a case against Shirasuka however, as he had no authority over IR policy or legislation at the time. 

Last year, the bribery scandal drew a great deal of ire from the public and opposition parties, calling for the national policies concerning IRs to be reversed. 

Major daily newspapers which have consistently opposed or called for caution about the legalization of casino gambling seized on the bribery scandal as evidence that IR development should not be allowed to go forward.

Public support for casino gambling in Japan continues to be hard to obtain.