Disney operator hired firm linked to rightists

cherrynegra

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Disney operator hired firm linked to rightists

05/21/2005

The Asahi Shimbun

CHIBA--The embarrassed operator of Tokyo Disney Resort admitted Friday it had a 20-year cleaning deal with a real estate company linked to a right-wing organization and a yakuza group.

The real estate company, Chuo Kohatsu, based in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, was contracted to clean Oriental Land Co.'s head office in the same city. Oriental Land acknowledged Chuo Kohatsu's shady ties. It also became clear that Chuo Kohatsu didn't do any of the actual work for which it was paid more than 2 billion yen over the two decades.

"It has become clear that the person who represented the business when the cleaning service began was someone not appropriate from the standpoint of our current compliance standards," Joji Yasuoka, director of Oriental Land's publicity department, told reporters at the Chiba prefectural government office.

Officials said Oriental Land will not renew the contract with Chuo Kohatsu after it expires at the end of August. They said Oriental Land had already planned to hire a subsidiary for the cleaning services.

When Oriental Land first signed the cleaning contract with Chuo Kohatsu, the real estate company was headed by a brother of Saburo Shiga, 79, a senior figure in the right-wing group Zen Nippon Aikokusha Dantai Kaigi (all-Japan council of patriots organizations).

Shiga is also a former top adviser to an organized crime syndicate called Matsubakai.

Until February this year, Shiga's son served on the board of directors of Chuo Kohatsu, although the company is located in a multipurpose building and only employs a few workers, mostly female, sources said.

Oriental Land officials said the cleaning service began in September 1984. They also said the company currently pays a monthly 9 million yen to Chuo Kohatsu for an annual total of 108 million yen.

Oriental Land has paid the company 2.189 billion yen during the 20-year arrangement, Yasuoka said.

Yasuoka said the figure was "appropriate" and based on standards in the business circle.

But the connection to right-wing and yakuza groups has hurt the image of the company that runs the family-based Disneyland, DisneySea as well as the hotels and other facilities at the park.

"I sincerely regret it," Oriental Land President Toshio Kagami told the news conference. "From now on, we will thoroughly investigate before we sign contracts with businesses."

Kagami also played down Shiga's ties to the yakuza group.

"I don't believe we are directly connected to gangsters," Kagami said.

When asked if he plans to take responsibility for the matter, Kagami said, "Absolutely not."

Oriental Land officials said Chuo Kohatsu did not actually do the cleaning but subcontracted the work to a building-maintenance company in Tokyo. Sources with the Tokyo company said Chuo Kohatsu workers were never involved in cleaning tasks.

Chuo Kohatsu reportedly pays 5 million yen a month to the subcontractor, meaning that Chuo Kohatsu has gained 4 million yen of Oriental Land's money each month for doing nothing, sources said.

Oriental Land's Kagami said his company did not know the cleaning job was subcontracted to the Tokyo company.(IHT/Asahi: May 21,2005)
 

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