Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson Reuters

The Likud party on Thursday night firmly rejected reports in Haaretz claiming that during an official visit to Japan last May, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to advance efforts of American businessman Sheldon Adelson, a close confidante of Netanyahu, to secure rights to a casino in the Asian nation.

Adelson owns the free paper Israel Hayom, which is viewed as being highly supportive of Netanyahu.

"This is a completely false 'report,' which has no basis or connection to reality whatsoever," emphasized Likud.

"The prime minister didn't ask for an 'private' meeting with any sources in the Japanese government, and certainly didn't ask for a meeting to try and advance Mr. Adelson's interests, or those of anyone else. The things that were stated simply never were," the party added.

According to the Haaretz report, during a "financial work visit" to Tokyo Netanyahu asked a "very senior source in the Japanese government" to take care of matters for Adelson, at which the source rejected the request.

Following Netanyahu's visit, there has been a whirlwind of bilateral activity to advance ties between Israel and Japan, turning the two countries into key allies in the space of less than a year.

Those rapidly strengthened ties were highlighted by an historical visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Israel last month, the first visit by a Japanese prime minister in nine years.

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