Japanese billionaire's arrest tied to Kahala property

Published: Mar. 5, 2013 at 2:20 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2013 at 4:29 AM HST
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Genshiro Kawamoto
Genshiro Kawamoto
Mark Blackburn
Mark Blackburn
Mark Blackburn
Mark Blackburn

TOKYO, JAPAN (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii News Now has learned that Japanese real estate mogul Genshiro Kawamoto is facing legal trouble in his home country. NTV Japan reports that investigators with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrested the 81-year-old on suspicion of evading roughly $9 million in corporate taxes.

The mysterious billionaire owns several rundown properties in Kahala. A source told NTV that the funds were used to buy sculptures for Kawamoto's art museum which is under construction at one of his Kahala properties. Some people living near his dilapidated homes were pleased to hear the news of his arrest.

"I think it's fantastic. Long overdue. I think that Mr. Kawamoto has been up to a lot of illegal activities," said Black Point resident Mark Blackburn.

"Maybe this will teach Mr. Kawamoto to be more respectful of the law," said Kahala homeowner Rich Turbin.

Kawamoto is the president of a real estate company called 'Marugen Building' in Ginza, Tokyo. He is accused of hiding some of the rental income from restaurants in 'Tokyo Shoji' which is part of his group's business. He is also accused of evading millions of dollars in corporate taxes for a three-year period ending in December 2011.

"It's incredible. Probably there's a direct tie to the (Kahala) properties themselves. I feel like finally we might get some justice here," said Blackburn.

"I'm just wondering if the Japanese government is going to attach liens on his Kahala property, and all I can say is if they do, I'm sure the Japanese government will do a better job than he has in maintaining these properties," Turbin said.

Neighbors have complained for years about Kawamoto's 27 properties along Kahala Avenue. He has paid $42,000 in city fines for permit and safety violations, as well as other problems. Now, frustrated residents are hoping for more legal action in Hawaii.

"He has violated Honolulu law, apparently, as well as Japanese law, and I would hope that our city officials would be inspired by the energy of the Japanese government," said Turbin.

Kawamoto does have some fans. Back in 2007, he invited three struggling families to live in his mansions rent-free for up to 10 years. Resident Dorie-Ann Kahale told Hawaii News Now that she is grateful for his generosity. She declined to comment on his latest legal trouble.

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