Tokyo Prosecutor Kurokawa Involved in Gambling Scandal

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By Julie Moraine

One of Japan’s top prosecutors, Hiromu Kurokawa, is stepping down from his post following involvement in a mahjong game with money bets.

Prosecutor Kurokawa Accused of Playing Mahjong for Money

Hiromu Kurokawa, chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, has stepped down after involvement in a gambling scandal. The weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported that Kurokawa had broken Japan’s stay-at-home order by participating in a game of mahjong with money bets. According to the magazine, Kurokawa was involved in two games – one on May 1 and one May 13 with reporters from two newspapers.

By doing so, the prosecutor broke the social distancing rules which were introduced by Japan’s government in order to reduce the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country. Keeping in mind that most gambling games in Japan are illegal, there are still some exceptions to that rule. However, according to the country’s laws, mahjong is not on that list.

In light of the current scandal, Kurokawa’s resignation is already a fact. Today, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented the prosecutor’s resignation. Masako Mori, Japan’s Justice Minister, noted that the ministry has confirmation on the report about the prosecutor’s involvement a game of mahjong for money. Mori said: “This kind of behavior is nothing but inappropriate and it is deeply regrettable.

Japanese Government Faces Series of Setbacks

This is far from the first setback that Japan’s government led by Prime Minister Abe has seen in establishing the credibility of gambling as worthwhile hobby and economic booster. Last year, in December, a lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was arrested on charges of having accepted bribes. Tsukasa Akimoto was accused of helping a gambling operator win a bid for building a casino resort.

Akimoto, accused of receiving some JPY7.6 million in cash and various gifts from Chinese gaming operator 500.com for the period 2017-2018, something the operator denied happened with the knowledge of its executive board. Earlier this year, Akimoto was found not guilty on the charges. However, this event did shake the Japanese government’s plan for obtaining fresh income sources.

Prime Minister Abe was known to be close with prosecutor Kurokawa. The prosecutor participated in another controversial debate about the retirement age for prosecutors in the country. A discussion surrounding an increase in the age needed for retirement of prosecutors from 63 to 65 was met with strong objections.

When Kurokawa turned 63, and was allowed to keep his position, which excited indignation. Back then, given the level of public scrutiny, Abe’s administration decided to discontinue the efforts to raise the retirement age.