Tokyo Prosecutor Played Mahjong for Money, Likely to Resign
May 21st, 2020 2.00pm
The chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, Hiromu Kurokawa, found himself in the middle of a gambling scandal after the local weekly magazine revealed the city’s top prosecutor illegally gambled during the state of emergency.
According to Shukan Bunshun magazine, Kurokawa not only gambled illegally but also failed to adhere to the social distancing guidelines introduced by the local authorities.
Another Headache for the Prime Minister
It was revealed that Kurokawa played mahjong for money on two separate occasions earlier this month, with unnamed newspaper reporters. Mahjong is a tactical game, very popular among players in Asia.
We have no information whether Tokyo’s leading prosecutor managed to win any money while playing mahjong, but it’s clear the whole scandal will force him to resign from his position.
Gambling is mostly illegal in Japan, with certain exceptions. Unfortunately for Kurokawa, playing mahjong for money is not one of them.
According to the report posted by the Shukan Bunshun, Kurokawa played mahjong on May 1st and May 13th, in a condominium owned by one of the reporters he played the game with. His host even paid a taxi that took Kurokawa home after they ended their session.
After it was revealed that one of the reporters was working for The Asahi Shimbun, the newspaper company issued a public apology on May 21st.
According to sources, Kurokawa admitted to playing mahjong for money but also pointed out he was planning to quit.
As Kurokawa is regarded as one of the close associates of the current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the scandal could have an impact on Abe’s administration, especially as the recent change in regulations, introduced by the nations’ government, raised the retirement age for prosecutors from 63 to 65. This allowed Kurokawa to remain at the office, as he had already turned 63.
This move led to a massive public outcry, while the opposition openly accused Abe and his government of trying to keep Kurokawa in his post.
In the end, the Prime Minister’s administration announced it would be abandoning the measure.
No Comments from the Government
The gambling scandal involving Kurokawa is the latest in the line of setbacks for Abe, whose administration has been dealing with heavy criticism over the way it handled the ongoing health crisis. Prime Minister was even asked to give a comment on the whole affair, but he didn’t wish to do so, stating the government was still looking into the matter and confirming the facts.
Kurokawa’s resignation could politically hurt the current administration, as Tokyo’s head prosecutor is seen as Abe’s ally.
This is yet another gambling scandal involving a senior Japanese official. Last year, a lawmaker was arrested after an inquiry revealed he accepted bribes from a Chinese gambling company to greenlight its casino resort project. Tsukasa Akimoto was later formally charged with taking around £58,000 in cash from a Chinese sports lottery operator during 2017 and 2018.
The former member of the Japanese ruling party claimed he was innocent, but the scandal had a big impact on the government’s efforts to legalize gambling.
Back in January 2017, the mayor of Iizuka, as well as his deputy, resigned after it was revealed they played mahjong for money on the job, but no charges were made against them.
The latest scandal could interfere with the government’s gambling plans. Abe and his administration have been seriously thinking of allowing casino gambling in Japan. Such a move could increase visits from abroad and bring additional funds for the country’s coffers.
Playing mahjong for money is illegal in Japan.