Posted on: December 27, 2020, 10:03h.
Last updated on: December 28, 2020, 08:57h.
Seven months after Hiromu Kurokawa resigned as Tokyo’s top prosecutor, an inquest panel has determined the 63-year-old should be indicted on gambling charges.
The Japan Times reported Friday that the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecutions finding now requires authorities to reconsider their previous ruling on the man who served as the second-highest ranking prosecutor in the country.
In late May, Kurokawa stepped down from his position after Japanese news magazine Shukan Bunshun reported that he played mahjong for money. The incident came while Japan was enforcing social distancing guidelines as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mahjong is a game played with domino-like tiles, with rules along the lines of gin rummy. It requires players to form sets and a pair to win.
Japan bans most forms of gambling, with the exception of betting on racing and municipal lotteries.
According to reports, Kurokawa played mahjong four times during the COVID emergency in April and May. According to the Times, he played with a pair of reporters from the Sankei Shimbum and a former writer with the Asahi Shimbum.
Inquest members said Kurokawa’s former position requires another review by authorities.
“His awareness that he sets a norm (for the public) is low,” the panel said, according to the Times.
Prosecutors to “Take Appropriate Measures”
Prosecutors initially reviewed the case in July and, at that time, opted against pursuing the case.
After the inquest reached its conclusion, the office Kurokawa once ran said in a statement it will review the decision.
We take the decision seriously,” the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office said. “After examining it, we will conduct necessary investigations and take appropriate measures.”
There’s no guarantee, though, prosecutors will choose to pursue the case.
The Committee for the Inquest of Prosecutions works similarly to a grand jury in the American justice system.
If authorities again decline to pursue the case, Kurokawa could still face prosecution if a second review of an inquest panel finds that he should.
Tokyo Bidding for a Casino Resort?
While Japanese officials reconsider pursuing charges against a former prosecutor, the push to expand gaming moves forward in Japan. It appears, though, that Tokyo may seek one of the three integrated resorts the country plans to license in the coming years.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said the city will keep discussing whether to bid for a casino, according to reports.
Other cities that have announced their intent to bid include Osaka, Yokohama, Wakayama, and Nagasaki.
Tokyo’s stature, though, as Japan’s largest metropolis might be enough for some companies that had previously pulled out of the running to reconsider vying for a Japanese license. One of the companies that could come back into the picture is Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Time is running short for cities to determine whether they will bid for a license. Governments and their chosen casino partner will be able to submit a proposal starting on Oct. 1. That window will remain open through April 28, 2022.