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More than 1,000 Japanese companies and individuals, including SoftBank Group Corp chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, are listed in leaked documents about tax havens dubbed the “Pandora Papers,” at a time when wealth management via offshore tax shelters have drawn criticism around the world.

Names found in documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists also include Takeo Hirata, a former head of the Cabinet Secretariat section responsible for promoting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The documents,
Dubbed the Pandora Papers by the Washington-based ICIJ, are leaks of internal files from 14 entities, such as trust companies and law firms specializing in establishing and running businesses in tax havens.

Kyodo News is a media partner of the ICIJ Project, which gained prominence after similar leaked documents called “Panama Papers” in 2016 brought public attention to the issue of tax evasion by individuals and businesses. richest companies in the world.

According to the documents, Son purchased a business jet around 2014 through a company established in 2009 in the Cayman Islands, a British territory considered a tax haven for businesses.

Ownership of the aircraft has been transferred to a US trust company and Son pays a fee when using the aircraft on a lease basis.

It is possible for a person in this situation to reduce their taxable income by paying a fee for the use of such an aircraft even if they actually own it, as these fees can be considered a loss, according to legal experts and financial.

A SoftBank spokesperson denied that Son treated the charges in this way, saying the Cayman Islands company was a subsidiary of a Japanese company run by Son and that the lease did not constitute tax evasion.

The Pandora Papers showed that Hirata had created a company in the British Virgin Islands in 2004 during his tenure as general secretary of the Japan Football Association, and liquidated it in 2008.

Hirata, a former bureaucrat with the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry, said he heard about tax havens from negotiating partners he met when working on football and oil issues .

“I wanted to know what it was. I didn’t even move money once,” Hirata said.

Hirata resigned in August from the Cabinet secretariat section promoting the Tokyo Games following an article in a weekly magazine claiming that he had used a government vehicle to travel to expensive golf lessons and that he had been offered the lessons for free.

Another person in the newspapers, George Hara, a tech venture capitalist who served as a special advisor to Japan’s Cabinet Office, owns a business in the Virgin Islands.

When approached about this, Hara said the company needs to be set up to meet the requirements when launching new businesses in different countries.

The documents show that the company, created for investing activities in Japan, had assets valued at $ 31 million in 2017, but Hara disputes this information.

A former executive of a now collapsed Japanese chemical company owns a business in the Virgin Islands with assets worth around $ 12.7 million. The company exists for the purpose of running a foundation in Liechtenstein.

“I did it before the bankruptcy. I don’t know what happened to him afterwards and the company is not mine,” the former executive told Kyodo News.

In 2013, discount chain store Don Quijote said its founder Takao Yasuda would sell his shares in the retailer to a Singapore company. But the leaked documents and other documents showed that the Southeast Asian country company is an asset management company owned by Yasuda.

Corporate tax and withholding tax on dividend income from stocks are lower in Singapore, where Yasuda lives, than in Japan. A spokesperson for Don Quijote said the discount retailer believes the tax treatment was carried out within the rules.

© KYODO

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