Billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto to make changes amid violations

Genshiro Kawamoto
Genshiro Kawamoto
Richard Turbin
Richard Turbin

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A rich man is trying to repair his image. Genshiro Kawamoto is notorious for his dilapidated mansions on Oahu, and his violations are lengthy, dating back to 2005 and still going.

But the Japanese investor says things are going to change.

Kawamoto tends to stay off the radar. But on Monday, he was out, re-modeling one of his Kahala mansions.

Faced with property problems, Kawamoto says improvements are on the way, including one he says will astonish everyone.

It's been a while since he's spoken to the media. But on Monday afternoon, he made a visit to one of his Kahala homes.

"Please wait a little longer, and there'll be more improvements," said Kawamoto, through his translator.

Kawamoto says he even has a surprise up his sleeve. He's keeping it hush hush, but he says, "It'll be very fun."

Kawamoto says he's still going ahead with the museum he's been talking about for several years.

"He bought a house that he's going to turn into a museum so he thought maybe this is a good time to do everything," said his translator.

The rumored site is on the 4800 block of Kahala Avenue, based on the pagodas that have been sitting there for at least a year, according to neighbors.

It's an ambitious vision, though he still faces a number of violations.

According to city reports from the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, Kawamoto has racked up 56 violations over the course of five years.

Most have been corrected. But seven are still outstanding, totaling more than $160,000 in fines.

The most recent citation was issued on June 10th for cylindrical footings that fell in the shoreline setback area at one of his Kahala Avenue properties.

"No, {it's a} mistake," said Kawamoto.

"He says everything is cleared up," said his interpreter.

"It's not a mistake, I believe the city," said Rich Turbin, a Kahala resident who's taken legal action against Kawamoto in the past.

"Mr. Kawamoto should be required to repair the damage that he's done and make our beaches safe," said Turbin.

While several of his properties remain neglected, crews spent Monday afternoon giving one of Kawamoto's homes a makeover, with Kawamoto himself, directing their work.

It's a sharp contrast to some of his other mansions.

One has a seawall crumbling onto the beach. According to records, he was cited for it on May 27. Just a few steps down from it, is a broken stairway.

And next door, at another one of his homes, is a pool filled with algae.

"It's a perfect petri dish for all kinds of mosquitos and vermin that can threaten our health," said Turbin.

One Kahala resident who doesn't want to give her name says visitors have questioned the neglect.

"They asked me if we had a tsunami. Because it was all torn down," she said.

Whether the most recent facelift is a sign of Kawamoto changing his ways, remains to be seen.

"This is the way he wants to do for the rest of the homes, making dynamic improvements. He did have it in his plans, but he never had the time to do it, but now he's found some time," said Kawamoto's translator.

"If he has 24 properties, and spruces up one by planting some bougainvillea out on front, you still have 23 properties that are in terrible disrepair," said Turbin.

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