Lawmaker gets 4-year prison term in bribery case

A Tokyo court has handed down a four-year prison sentence to a Japanese lawmaker convicted of receiving bribes in connection with government-led integrated resort projects and tampering with witnesses.

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday ordered Lower House member Akimoto Tsukasa to also forfeit about 7.5 million yen, or around 68,000 dollars.

Akimoto formerly served as a state minister of the Cabinet Office and was in charge of integrated resorts, which feature casinos.

He was indicted for taking bribes from a Chinese firm seeking to enter the resort business. He was also charged with asking the bribe-givers to give false testimony in court in return for cash.

Prosecutors had demanded a five-year prison term, saying Akimoto's actions were unprecedentedly malicious.

They said the defendant had unhesitatingly accepted bribes despite his status as the state minister in charge of casino resorts, and had contacted people involved in the case as soon as he was released on bail.

Akimoto denied all charges, saying he had never acted in the interest of a single company.

Akimoto is the first Diet member since 2004 to receive an unsuspended prison sentence for bribery at the district court level.