The June 28 issue of Shukan Bunshun is carrying an article entitled "Manager Hara paid former gangsters 100M yen." The Yomiuri Giants held a press conference in Tokyo today and informed the media that the article was not entirely true and that they planned to file for damages.
According to the Giants, two men approached Hara in 2006 about a woman he had "troubles with" in 1988 and demanded 100M yen to keep quiet. At the time of the incident, Hara did not know the two men had questionable pasts. The Giants also learned from the Metropolitan Police Department that the two men were not gangsters.
Source: Nikkan Sports 6/20/2012
Daily Sports has published two open letters written by Hara, one to Hidetoshi Kiyotake, and the other to fans.
First, the one to Kiyotake:
Many things have been reported in the press lately that have caused Yomiuri Giants' players, former players, and personnel pain. The many things that have been revealed have caused a lot of disorder within in the Yomiuri Giants. The players and former players are having a difficult time dealing with the issues. As the manager of the team, I have also felt much pain through all of this.
I want to know why these things are still continuing. Who else, other than Kiyotake-san, could be doing this?
In some ways, I am glad this latest incident is about me.
I met Kiyotake-san when the Giants were at a low. We ate from the same pot of cooked rice, we had the same goals. We cried together during tough times and good time. We were loved by fans. We worked hard to build a strong team. We won three pennants. We even won a Nippon Series.
There were many before us that helped the Giants grow, that protected this organization. There are many that hope this team can help bridge dreams to the future. I continue to believe that you are one of these people, Kiyotake-san.
Please take pride in the fact that you were once a member of the Yomiuri Giants organization.
There is still time.
And the second to fans:
I had a relationship with a certain woman sometime around 1988. I ended it with her shortly thereafter, but eighteen years later, during the year I made my return as manager, in August 2006, I received a phone call from someone connected to the Pro Yakyu. They said, "There is a diary with information about your relationship with a woman. If this comes out to the public, it will cause a major uproar in the baseball world. I want you to entrust me with keeping it from getting out."
I felt I was being blackmailed and I felt uneasy. But I also understood they were going to save me, so I paid them the money. It was a difficult decision. My personal manager said that I should inform the team and file a report with the police if the calls did not stop.
After that, there were no additional calls. But in 2009, a different man called the team and said, "A diary containing information about a relationship was given to the manager. I want that returned." I told the team everything at that point. I also told my wife. I felt she was going to be the one that gets hurt the most.
The man that called was arrested. I heard he was found guilty. I thought I would offer an explanation in my own words to avoid misunderstandings, once things became clear. I wanted to let out my thoughts and take responsibility of my actions.
This was of my own doing and I feel I did something foolish. As a person that has coached many players, I am deeply remorseful. To all the fans, I am very sorry.
Yomiuri Giants, Hara Tatsunori
UPDATE @ 7:58pm - The Asahi Shimbun article fighting ham linked to down below mentioned the following:
Two men approached Hara in August 2008 and demanded 100M yen to keep quiet. Hara borrowed money from a friend and paid the two men. Hara did not inform the police or the Giants.
In April 2009, a former gang leader demanded the Giants return the diary. One of the two members that approached Hara in 2008 used to belong to the former gang leader's group. The Giants launched an internal investigation it was then that Hara admitted he paid two men off.
The member that used to belong to a gang was arrested in December 2009 after he threatened a Giants' employee (he said he had a bomb).
During today's press conference, team president Tsunekazu Momoi told reporters that Hara did not file a report with the police in 2009 because of the two men that approached him was dead.
And one other update, this one from Daily Sports - Kiyotake's lawyer spoke to reporters about Hara's open letter to Kiyotake. His comment:
It sounds like it is trying to guide the media by pointing to Kiyotake. I have not read the Shukan Bunshun article and I do not know what was said during Yomiuri's press conference. Whatever Hara is said to have said... I do not believe it was really him. I do not think he was moving on his own. Mentioning Kiyotake and making him out to be the bad guy is the easiest thing to do.
UPDATE 6/21 @ 12:21am - Team owner Kojiro Shiraishi told reporters on Wednesday he felt there was no need for Hara to resign from his post as manager. He also said it would be good to use this opportunity to settle all past debts and allow Hara to move on. Source: Sanspo 6/20/2012
Nikkan Sports published an open letter from Kiyotake that said, in a nutshell, he was innocent and the Yomiuri Giants were trying to put the squeeze on him. (I would translate the entire letter, but it is a bit long and I am strapped for time right now.)
UPDATE 6/21 @ 12:54am - Shukan Bunshun has posted posted a bit on the article.
UPDATE 6/21 @ 11:07pm - Some updates:
- Two Nippon TV shows (Sukkiri from 8:00am to 10:25am and Joho Live Miyane-ya from 1:55pm - 3:50pm) did not provide any Hara coverage. Yomiuri Shimbun is a major shareholder of Nippon TV. Source: Daily Sports 6/21/2012
- When reporters approached team chairman Tsuneo Watanabe for comment Wednesday night, he said just one thing before climbing into his car: "Good evening." Source: Sanspo 6/21/2012
- Only four people reportedly knew the particulars of what happened in 2009. Of those four, it seems Kiyotake was the only one that might have a motive. Kiyotake also apparently dropped hints that he would reveal the information last November. The team is also said to have recordings of Kiyotake telling team employees he controlled Hara's fate. Source: Nikkan Sports 6/21/2012, Sponichi 6/21/2012
- I forgot to mention early on that the diary also contained the names of two people that were Yomiuri coaches in 2006. This was reportedly another reason why Hara ultimately decided to pay off the two men. Source: Sponichi 6/21/2012
- The Giants stressed three points during their press conference on Wednesday: 1) money was not paid to a gang; 2) Hara never met the individuals and was never pressured into doing anything else; 3) they felt the Shukan Bunshun article might make people think Hara paid money to a gang and wanted to clarify things. Source: Sponichi 6/21/2012
- Hara did not personally pay off the two men -- he had two people from his personal office take the money to them and retrieve the diary. Source: Nikkan Sports 6/21/2012
- Sponichi has posted a brief timeline.
- Sponichi notes the irony of Hara appearing in an anti-gang poster for the Metropolitan Police Department in 2009.
- The team did not provide the players with any explanations on Wednesday. Some players did not find out until reporters asked them for comment. Source: Sponichi 6/21/2012
- Hara rounded up the players and staff at the team hotel in Nagano today and apologized for the distraction. The team then headed to the stadium for about two hours of practice. Source: Nikkan Sports 6/21/2012
- Sanspo has posted brief Q&As with Hara and Momoi.
UPDATE 6/23 @ 12:32am - A couple of updates:
- The NPB is keeping an eye on things and is also refraining from making any comments at this time. Source: Sanspo 6/22/2012
- The Giants received 46 phones calls and e-mails on Wednesday and 146 phone calls and e-mails on Thursday. The team did not provide reporters with a breakdown of the kinds of calls they received, but did say that some were supportive and some were critical. Source: Sanspo 6/22/2012
UPDATE 6/26 @ 2:37pm - Chairman Watanabe told reporters on Monday that he had no plans to dismiss Hara and that he expected him to return next season as well (they signed him to a two-year deal before the start of the current season).
Watanabe also mentioned that Kiyotake told three people connected to the Yomiuri Giants that he was going to get Hara and that he was going to expose him.
"Before Kiyotake left, he told three people he was going to get Hara and expose him. And one of those three people recorded the conversation. So Kiyotake is the source," said Watanabe.
Source: Sponichi 6/26/2012
UPDATE 6/26 @ 5:48pm - According to Nikkan Sports, Kiyotake's lawyer told reporters that his client had nothing to do with leaking Hara's affairs and that the Yomiuri Group were making up stories again.
UPDATE 7/4 @ 12:37am - Kiyotake made an appearance on Nico Nico Nama Hoso and denied he was the leak in the Hara story. He also invited Hara to do a show with him on Nico Nico if he had any questions or concerns. Source: Daily Sports 7/3/2012
UPDATE 7/4 @ 5:54pm - Kiyotake claimed during his Nico Nico appearance that he did not find out about the payoff until he was given a report on it. He also said that he did not know how things were handled after that. Source: Nikkan Sports 7/4/2012