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Yomiuri Giants file a lawsuit against Asahi Shimbun, seeking 55 million yen in damages

by on Dec.09, 2012 @ 1:58 am, under NPB
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The Yomiuri Giants filed a lawsuit against Asahi Shimbun on Friday for a series of false articles they ran in March about high bonuses the team was handing out to drafted players.  The Giants are seeking 55 million yen in damages; they also want a printed apology.

Asahi Shimbun published an article about how the Giants paid out high bonuses to a number of players that were drafted between 1998 and 2005.  The bonuses were reported as being well over the suggested cap.

Yomiuri Giants: "It was reported that [four current players] earned a total 2.6 billion yen in bonuses, but in reality, it was a total 850 million yen.  The article is contradicting the truth."

Source: Sponichi 12/8/2012, Nikkan Sports 12/8/2012

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Asahi Shimbun’s Mass Media and Human Rights Conduct Committee find no problem with bonus report

by on Jul.13, 2012 @ 2:59 am, under NPB
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Asahi Shimbun's third party Mass Media and Human Rights Conduct Committee announced on Thursday that they did not  think reports from the news division on player bonuses in March illegally damaged the Yomiuri name.

The committee checked over the facts of the report and found them to true.  Based on that:

  1. Since the report did not abuse the freedom of expression, there was no illegal damage to anyone's name.
  2. Contracts are a concern for pro yakyu fans so there was enough reason to publicly release information on bonuses that went beyond normal levels.  As such, there was no illegal infringement on privacy.
  3. Journalism ethics and standards were not compromised for the report or for the collection of data.

Asahi Shimbun's third party Mass Media and Human Rights Conduct Committee is currently made up of Yasuo Hasebe (University of Tokyo, Faculty of Law), Hiroshi Fujita (former vice chairman of the editorial board at Kyodo News), and Koji Miyakawa (former Supreme Court Justice and a former lawyer).

Four deliberations were held by the committee before formulating their final opinion.  The Yomiuri Giants and Asahi Shimbun were also questioned.

The Giants are unhappy with the findings and plan on seeking damages through a lawsuit against Asahi Shimbun.

Source: Asahi Shimbun 7/12/2012, Nikkan Sports 7/12/2012

See also:

Asahi Shimbun not happy with Yomiuri Shimbun's latest reports on Hidetoshi Kiyotake

Yomiuri Giants, four players file petition with Asahi Shimbun's News and Civil Liberties Committee

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UPDATE 7/14 @ 10:25am - Yomiuri Giants' team chairman Tsuneo Watanabe's thoughts on Asahi Shimbun's third party Mass Media and Human Rights Conduct Committee announcement: "Evidence unfavorable to Asahi [Shimbun] was excluded and the result was an answer that defended Asahi's misinformed report.  There is no choice but to say the Committee violated civil liberties by justifying the incorrect report. ... We will take this to the court and dispute this fairly.  I promise that we will win this lawsuit."  Source: Daily Sports 7/14/2012

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Yomiuri Giants withdraw request to secure Kiyotake’s mobile phone records

by on Jun.19, 2012 @ 11:10 pm, under NPB
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The Yomiuri Giants submitted a request to the Tokyo District Court on May 21 to have Hidetoshi Kiyotake's mobile phone records released by his carrier.  Hiroharu Yoshimine, Kiyotake's lawyer, informed the media on Monday that the Giants withdrew their request on June 15.

According to Yoshimine, the Giants wanted the courts to secure Kiyotake's mobile phone records as evidence he contacted a third party and leaked company secrets.

"It is obvious the Giants withdrew their request because they were afraid it would be turned down," said Yoshimine.

The Giants response: "We considered a third-party opinion and decided to withdraw the request on our own volition."

Source: Nikkan Sports 6/18/2012

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Asahi Shimbun not happy with Yomiuri Shimbun’s latest reports on Hidetoshi Kiyotake

by on May.31, 2012 @ 9:21 pm, under NPB
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Yomiuri Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun are squaring off again on the player bonus articles that appeared earlier this year.

On May 26, Yomiuri Shimbun reported that there was a good chance Hidetoshi Kiyotake was responsible for an internal document leak that resulted in a "misinformed" Asahi Shimbun article about the Giants handing out extremely high bonuses to players.  The Yomiuri report also mentioned that Kiyotake was in contact with an Asahi Shimbun reporter.

Asahi Shimbun fired back with a written objection on Wednesday: they stood by their article ("it was not misinformed") and added that Yomiuri's report on May 26 could lead readers into believing that their reporter knew Kiyotake stole internal documents from the Yomiuri offices.

Asahi Shimbun's Mass Media and Human Rights Conduct Committee also decided today that a petition submitted by the Yomiuri Giants and Yoshinobu Takahashi, Shinnosuke Abe, Tetsuya Utsumi, and Takahiko Nomaguchi (players that were named in the Asahi Shimbun article) on April 27 will be reviewed.

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Yomiuri Giants, four players file petition with Asahi Shimbun’s News and Civil Liberties Committee

by on Apr.28, 2012 @ 1:33 am, under NPB
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The Yomiuri Giants announced on Friday that the team and four of their players filed a petition with Asahi Shimbun's News and Civil Liberties Committee (a third-party committee).  The four players, Yoshinobu Takahashi, Shinnosuke Abe, Tetsuya Utsumi, and Takahiko Nomaguchi, and the team are seeking a correction and a written apology from Asahi Shimbun for using their real names and reporting false information in an article they published on March 15 about six Yomiuri players that received 3.6B yen in bonuses.

The Giants are claiming that Asahi Shimbun ignored their explanation about how part of the money was performance based and not considered a signing bonus -- the four players were actually paid a total 850M yen in signing bonuses but the Asahi Shimbun article reported that they were paid a total 2.6B yen.

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Asahi Shimbun vs Yomiuri Giants: neither side showing signs of backing down

by on Mar.31, 2012 @ 7:40 am, under NPB
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The Yomiuri Giants informed the media last Saturday (March 24) that they sat down with an Asahi Shimbun reporter on Friday and Saturday to discuss an issue surrounding their tax reports from March 2003 and March 2004.  Their conversation led them to believe that they were being suspected of incorrectly filing their tax reports and being told by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau to make the appropriate changes.

Asahi Shimbun then published an article last Sunday morning (March 25) about the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau informing the Yomiuri Giants they needed to make changes to their filings because of accounting errors.  The Giants fired off another set of questions to Asahi Shimbun later in the day in response to this article and essentially said that the report was untrue and that they voluntarily made adjustments to their reports, which the Taxation Bureau accepted.

On Thursday (March 29), Asahi Shimbun published three articles which prompted the Yomiuri Giants to once again submit questions to the paper.

Asahi Shimbun submitted a response to the Yomiuri Giants on Friday (seems like it may have been a general response to all their questions) that once again stated their articles were based on information obtained from investigations they conducted and a number of sources.

And perhaps in a bit of irony, a report on Friday broke that Asahi Shimbun failed to declare 250M yen in revenue over a five year period, ending on March 31, 2011.

NOTE: I am trying to cover this the best I can, but with so many different reports, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep things straight.  My apologies if there are any errors.

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Yomiuri Giants ask Asahi Shimbun why they ran the bonus story

by on Mar.25, 2012 @ 2:21 am, under NPB
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The Yomiuri Giants sent Asashi Shimbun a list of twelve questions asking why they decided to publish their report on six players that were paid high bonuses close to ten years ago.  Below are a most of the questions (the complete document, in Japanese, can be found at Nikkan Sports).  The Giants also asked that Asahi Shimbun provide a reply within five days.

  1. If the team did pay high bonuses to players as their report suggests, how exactly is it a bad thing if the league had not set any firm limitations on max bonuses?
  2. The headline for the report was "[Bonuses] were over the league's agreement."  However, at the time, the agreement the league had at the time was that the max limit was not necessarily a hard-set limit.  That would mean your headline is false.  Please let us know what you think with regards to this issue.
  3. Teams generally want to keep players drafted out of high school for at least five years and players drafted out of college or the Industrial Leagues around three years.  When negotiating deals, this is also considered.  Did you know this?
  4. The 100M yen bonus (150M yen if you include incentives) limit set in 2007 only covers the amount paid in the first year.  Are you aware of this?
  5. Let us say we did pay bonuses over the limit, as mentioned, the limit only covers the first year.  And you mentioned that we paid the bonuses out over a number of years, based on whether or not certain conditions were met.  That would put the bonuses in line with the limit.  Do you still find a problem with the contracts?
  6. We urged your reporter to confirm facts with someone that has a strong general understanding of the NPB.  The report was filed early the next morning.  Did your reporter, or anyone connected with the story interview someone with a strong general understand of the NPB?
  7. We do not have financial contracts for at least two of the six players you covered in your report.  Where exactly did you get the amounts from?
  8. The article 1) was about something that happened between eight to fifteen years ago, 2) contained private material about players, and 3) was about something that did not break any rules.  Despite that, you still published player names and photos.  Can you tell us what the value is in that?
  9. You mention internal documents, and yet you have never verified their authenticity with us directly.  How did you come to find they were authentic?
  10. Let us assume they are authentic, that would mean they had to have been taken from our offices illegally.  What are your thoughts of a content provider that depends on documents that were likely obtained illegally?

Yomiuri Giants Document Leak: Hidetoshi Kiyotake’s lawyer answers back

by on Mar.22, 2012 @ 1:15 am, under NPB
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Hidetoshi Kiyotake's lawyer, Hiroharu Yoshimine, spoke to reporters on Wednesday on provided them with the following comment:

We do not have any spare time to pay attention to what a selfish elderly man, that can no longer distinguish between right and wrong, says.  We have no time to waste on how low the journalistic integrity of Yomiuri Shimbun has been over the last few days.

We have a plan and we have no intention of stooping down to the levels of a selfish elderly man that utters nonsense, or a newspaper with such low standards.

Will will be fair and we will take the high road.

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Yomiuri Giants' chair Tsuneo Watanabe did not respond to requests from the media on Wednesday.  Team president Tsunekazu Momoi and team rep Atsushi Harasawa also did not speak to the media.

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Shigeo Nagashima told Yomiuri Shimbun that he was worried about the players, in particular the four he managed (Yoshinobu Takahashi, Koji Uehara, Tomohiro Nioka, and Shinnosuke Abe), that were publicly outed by Asahi Shimbun.  He also could not understand why something that did not break the rules and happened ten years ago could become a story now.

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Yomiuri Giants Document Leak: Tsuneo Watanabe points finger at Hidetoshi Kiyotake

by on Mar.21, 2012 @ 2:21 am, under NPB
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Nikkan Sports posted the following interaction Yomiuri Giants' chairman Tsuneo Watanabe had with the media on Monday.

What are your thoughts on Asahi Shimbun's reply to Yomiuri's request for a written apology?

It is not a reply.  They wrote that multiple internal sources and documents prove their story to be true.  Who are those multiple sources?  Well, I looked into it too.  There is only one.  Internal documents are top secret and these documents were stolen.  In other words, we have a thief.  They will not show the documents even though they were stolen.

Will you protest?

Of course we will.  But we will do something that has a little more impact.

There was mention of taking legal measures.

Before taking legal measures, legal measures are a civil case.  We can also make this a criminal case.  We are looking into that now.

With regards to the document leak, there are some that feel former team rep [Hidetoshi] Kiyotake may have been involved.

It there another option?  Could there be anyone else?  I looked into everything.  The document leak, it was stolen.  It is a case for the police.  Obstruction of business using deception, aggravated breach of trust, he is a former employee so this is what it would be.  If, of course, this is true.  We are discussing this theft with the authorities.

Have you read former team rep Kiyotake's [new] book?

No.  Do you think I have enough free time to waste on reading such a silly book like that?  There are more pressing books I want to read like those on nuclear energy and TPP.  I do not have any time to spare on worthless books written by such a vulgar man.

Yomiuri Giants claim Kiyotake was lying about how much contact he had with player contracts

by on Mar.20, 2012 @ 3:34 am, under NPB
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Hidetoshi Kiyotake spoke to Kyodo News on Sunday night and denied any involvement in the document leak that affected six Yomiuri Giant players.  The Giants responded a less than two hours later by faxing a document to all the media outlets that said: 1) the team rep handles everything during player negotiations and hands the final documents over to the accounting department head; 2) team reps will reference previous contract during contract negotiations every year; 3) there is no way Kiyotake does not see any contracts; 4) Kiyotake was not only the team rep, but also in charge of team operations and general affairs; an 5) the court documents he filed for his lawsuit also contain similar information about what his job was when he worked for the team.

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Asahi Shimbun responded to the Yomiuri Giants' request for a written apology on Monday by saying that they cannot meet the demands because their article was based on information obtained from internal documents and from people with knowledge of the incident (in other words, it seems they are taking the stance that they can not apologize for reporting on the truth).

The Giants will consider their options before moving forward.

It should also be noted that team chairman Tsuneo Watanabe spoke to reporters on Monday and said that Asahi Shimbun's response was not a response and that he planned to protest it.  He also mentioned the possibility of dragging the police into the mix because internal documents were stolen.

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The Yomiuri Giants filed a letter of protest against an MSN Sankei News article (it was an interview with Kiyotake) on Monday because the information contained in the article was untrue.

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While not entirely related to this latest incident, team president Tsunekazu Momoi told reporters he read Kiyotake's newest book, Kyokai (巨魁), and provided them with the following comment:

I saw the book.  It made me tilt my head a little.  And not just with regards to the content.  And assuming, for one moment, what what he wrote was true, then there are things he should not be writing about as someone that used to be a team rep.  There are a lot of problems, including player trust.  It seems to me that he skips past that part.  He could say that he is not the team rep now, but it left me with a lot of questions.  I also think that people who do not understand [how things really are] will read the book and believe what he is saying.  That is the real problem.

Incidentally, for the conspiracy theorists: the book was released nationally on March 16; the bonuses report was filed by Asahi Shimbun early on the 15th.

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