Eight former franchisees of Subway Japan, a fast-food sandwich chain, filed a 457 million yen damages suit Thursday with the Tokyo District Court against its headquarters and Suntory Ltd., alleging that unfair contracts between the owners and the headquarters resulted in the failure of their shops.

Tetsuzo Ono, a plaintiff who owned a Subway shop in Chiba, said the contracts brought huge profits only for the headquarters.

Under the contract, franchisees were obliged to provide 8 percent of their sales to the headquarters, a figure much higher than that of other fast-food chains, he said.

Ono closed his shop in December 1997 after accumulating excessive debt, he said. Ono said that Suntory is equally responsible for their plight because Subway Japan is virtually a subsidiary of Suntory.

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