Interpreter Ippei Mizuhara Dismissed for Allegedly Embezzling Shohei Ohtani’s 680 Million Yen in Illegal Gambling Scandal | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Interpreter Ippei Mizuhara Dismissed for Allegedly Embezzling Shohei Ohtani’s 680 Million Yen in Illegal Gambling Scandal

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Otani found the officials as he left the gym with Mr. Mizuhara (November 2022).

A tremor struck all of Japan.

On March 20 (March 21 Japan time), various American newspapers including the “Los Angeles Times” reported that the Dodgers had dismissed Shohei Ohtani’s (29) exclusive interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara (39). According to various American reports, Mizuhara was involved in illegal sports gambling and had accumulated a large amount of debt. To cover this debt, Mizuhara transferred at least $4.5 million (about 680 million yen) from Ohtani’s account to a bookmaker’s account. Ohtani’s agent’s lawyer reportedly accused Mizuhara of large-scale embezzlement.

Regarding this matter, Mizuhara responded to an interview with the American sports channel ESPN on March 19, stating,

“He (Ohtani) clearly wasn’t happy about it and said he would help me so I wouldn’t do something like this again.”

Furthermore, he stated,

“I want everyone to know that Shohei was not involved in gambling at all. I want them to know that I didn’t know this was illegal. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. I never want to gamble on sports again.”

However, after the same media contacted Ohtani’s agent to hear their side of the story, Ohtani’s lawyer issued a statement saying,

Shohei is the victim of a massive embezzlement.”

Mizuhara also reportedly retracted his previous statement to the same media the next day, stating,

“Shohei knew nothing about my gambling, debts, or repayments.”

“Mizuhara immigrated to Los Angeles from Japan in 1991. After graduating from college, he worked as an interpreter for players like Shuji Okajima (Red Sox, etc.), and from 2013 to 2017, he served as an interpreter for the Nippon-Ham Fighters. He met Ohtani in 2012 and joined the Angels as his exclusive interpreter in 2017.

In 2021, when Ohtani won the MVP with a unanimous vote, the official Instagram account of the Angels posted accolades for Mizuhara as the “best interpreter.” It seems that Mizuhara was appreciated for supporting Ohtani both publicly and privately, from daily life assistance to being a catch partner. It’s possible that Ohtani entrusted Mizuhara with financial matters as well.” (MLB analyst)

There is no doubt that Ohtani had complete trust in Mizuhara both personally and professionally.

FRIDAY witnessed the two during their stay in Japan. After the 2021 season ended, Ohtani returned triumphantly but was forced to undergo a two-week home quarantine due to the pandemic. In mid-November, after the quarantine period ended, he and Mizuhara left their apartment together to attend a press conference at the Japan Press Club, then headed straight to the training gym. Mizuhara, serving as both the driver and training partner, continued to accompany Ohtani even after his return to Japan.

After finishing their training, the two returned to Ohtani’s apartment. From that day on, they only traveled between the apartment and the gym every day. Ohtani rarely went out except for the gym. Occasionally, they were spotted going out in a car with Mizuhara and his wife. When Ohtani returned to Japan after the 2022 season, the two spent their days commuting between the sports gym and their apartment, driven by Mizuhara.

Mizuhara not only supported Ohtani but also made significant contributions to the WBC victory. It is a well-known fact that Mizuhara was the one who first contacted Cardinals’ Lars Nootbaar, who sparked the “Pepper Mill Pose” craze across Japan during the WBC.

“Ohtani was determined to win the WBC, and he was secretly recruiting Major League players eligible to play for Samurai Japan during the season. At that time, when the Cardinals clinched their division title, Mizuhara contacted Nootbaar on social media instead of Ohtani, inquiring about his interest in representing Samurai Japan in the WBC. A few months later, Mizuhara played a significant role in arranging a remote interview with Manager Hideo Furumachi,” said a sports newspaper reporter.

On the other hand, there are also voices like this,

“Mizuhara seemed dissatisfied with the income disparity with Ohtani, who had obtained vast wealth through a massive contract. His gambling habit was well known, and there were concerns that he might make a big mistake. Within the Dodgers organization, suspicions had been directed at Mizuhara since the time of his transfer,” said a sports newspaper reporter close to the two.

Mizuhara’s betrayal not only undermined Ohtani’s trust but also disappointed MLB fans worldwide. His sins are too heavy to bear.

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Otani leaving the sports club with Mizuhara after training (November ’21).
Mizuhara always took the wheel in Japan (November ’21)
Otani leaving the gym with Mizuhara in November 2010.
The two were working together almost as if they were one and the same… (November ’22)
Otani greets the people involved when he leaves the gym. Behind him is Mr. Mizuhara (November ’22).
Otani and his wife, Mamiko (from the Dodgers’ official X)
  • PHOTO. Kojiro Yamada (1st, 4th-6th), Shu Nishihara (2nd, 3rd)

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