• Kyodo

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The Shiga District Court said Monday that it has ordered four former executives of a failed golf course management company, including a one-time lawmaker, to pay a total of 1.92 billion yen in compensation.

The court found former House of Representatives member Chikara Higashi and three former executives of Eastern Resort Development, based in Shiga Prefecture, responsible for damages incurred by the firm, which went under in 1999.

The amount is less than the 3.45 billion yen in damages claimed by assignees of the company, which is currently undergoing court-supervised rehabilitation.

While the court’s decision is legally binding, Higashi has indicated that he will challenge it, with the case expected to develop into a civil damages suit, observers said.

According to the decision, Higashi was responsible for a total of 1.27 million yen in damages to the golf course management firm, as assets held by the company dropped sharply in value after the burst in the early 1990s of the bubble economy. The company was established in 1988.

In one case, a building Higashi bought from a Tokyo construction company in 1990 for 3.2 billion yen for investment purposes was worth just 400 million yen in 1997.

The court also found that the three other members incurred a total of 650 million yen in damages by such means as extending irrecoverable loans to a construction company that had close ties with Higashi.

The former executives, objecting to the redress order, plan to bring the case to the district court as a damages suit.

While the assignees said Monday’s court decision was expected, lawyers for the four defendants said they will continue to contest the decision on the grounds they were insufficiently prepared for the case, as Higashi had been abroad.

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