The Fall of Shohei Ohtani’s Trusted Interpreter: The Betrayal of Ippei Mizuhara | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Fall of Shohei Ohtani’s Trusted Interpreter: The Betrayal of Ippei Mizuhara

The "monster" who dissolved about 28 billion yen through illegal gambling and stole about 2.5 billion yen from Shohei Otani

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Suspect Mizuhara appeared in federal court in Los Angeles dressed in a suit. He appears somewhat worn out compared to before the issue arose.

“I want to apologize to Mr. Ohtani, the Dodgers, MLB, and my family.”

The man who appeared in federal court in Los Angeles in a suit had shackles on his ankles. Suspect Ippei Mizuhara (39), who expressed his apologies to former comrades through his lawyer, maintained a vacant expression throughout the courtroom proceedings and disappeared without speaking to the press scheduled after the court session

“Mizuhara is suspected of bank fraud, utilizing his position as an interpreter from 2021 to January of this year to make unauthorized transfers exceeding $16 million (about ¥2.47 billion) from Shohei Ohtani’s account. Mizuhara is known to have gambled away approximately ¥28 billion, with a net loss of up to ¥6.3 billion. Such a massive fraud scandal is extremely rare even in America,” (US local media reporter).

“I’m done for.” How did Mizuhara fall into the illegal gambling abyss that ruined his life? Keith Whyte, chairman of the NCPG (National Council on Problem Gambling) in the United States, speaks on this matter.

“There are hundreds of thousands of illegal bookmakers in America. Illegal operators are adept at persuading wealthy individuals and getting them to pour in large sums of money. Mizuhara, who had access to the account of an athlete who signed the highest contract in sports history, was targeted. Threatened with ‘I’ll contact Ohtani if you don’t return the money,’ Mizuhara fell into an endless loop of gambling to recoup his losses.

When you think of gambling, you might imagine casinos, but what he was doing was online betting, which can be done with just a smartphone, and the market size is said to be over several billion dollars,” 

“The fact that he was targeted doesn’t justify touching other people’s money; it’s not a sign of a sound mind. Former Daio Paper Corporation chairman, Takamasa Ikawa, who himself faced charges due to debts from gambling, speaks on this matter.

“No matter how much you win or lose, it doesn’t matter to us gamblers. It’s about hitting rock bottom, peering into the depths of hell, and then trying to recover losses—it’s a sensation that only gamblers who have had such experiences can understand. Gambling within one’s means doesn’t evoke such feelings. That’s why Mizuhara ended up using Ohtani’s money, and betting large sums. Even if losses piled up, there was a naive belief that ‘if I win it back and apologize, I’ll be forgiven.’

In fact, I also sank about 1 trillion yen of company money into casinos, lost it all, even after deducting winnings, I lost about 10 billion yen. After it was discovered by the company, I lost nearly another 2 billion yen. Addiction is powerful. Even if you’re deprived of your smartphone, you’re in a mental state where you bet on whether the next person walking towards you will be a man or a woman.”

Due to the large sum involved, he is likely to face a prison sentence of up to 30 years. What fate awaits suspect Mizuhara?

“Even after serving the sentence, addiction persists. Some people never recover. Ideally, attending meetings of anonymous gambling addiction groups, monitoring each other, and living modestly is the way to go, but Mizuhara’s face is already well known,” (previously mentioned, Mr. White).

From star interpreter to the worst betrayer of the Reiwa era, suspect Mizuhara has had a dramatic fall. The road to rehabilitation is incredibly tough and long.”

When he was working as an interpreter for Otani’s interviews. I wonder if her head was full of repayment.

From the May 3, 2024 issue of FRIDAY


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