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Top court orders high court to retry suit against ex-Janome managers.

TOKYO, April 10 Kyodo

The Supreme Court repealed a lower court decision Monday that turned down demands that five former managers of Janome Sewing Machine Co. pay 93.9 billion yen in damages to the sewing machine maker over a huge amount of debts the company owed after succumbing to blackmailing pressures from a stock speculator-shareholder group.

The five-member No. 2 Petty Bench ordered the Tokyo High Court to retry the damages suit filed by a Janome stockholder, ruling that the defendants succumbed to unfair pressures and gave favors to the shareholder-speculator in violation of the Commercial Code.

Justice Ryoji Nakagawa, the presiding judge of the case, said that managers of a corporation should file a complaint with police to cope with unjust demands from a shareholder using his dominant position.

The Supreme Court acted on an appeal from a former board member of Janome, who is also a Janome shareholder, against a 2003 Tokyo High Court decision that said the five former Janome executives unavoidably accepted the speculator's demand and are not obliged to pay the damages.

On March 27, 2003, the Tokyo High Court upheld a 2001 Tokyo District Court decision, ruling that the former Janome executives unavoidably succumbed to the speculator's ''artful and violent'' pressures from Mitsuhiro Kotani, leader of the now-defunct Koshin speculators group.

Koshin acquired a large amount of Janome shares and threatened to sell them to gangsters. Janome paid 30 billion yen to Koshin in the form of loans through a subsidiary.

Kotani, 68, has appealed his seven-year prison sentence to the Supreme Court.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Apr 10, 2006
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