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Both sides stood fast at their first court session Thursday as former Yomiuri Giants general manager Hidetoshi Kiyotake maintained his firing was illegal while the Yomiuri group countered that his public criticism of the team’s chairman was defamatory.

The Tokyo District Court litigation combines Kiyotake’s suit and Yomiuri’s countersuit.

Kiyotake, who claims he was unfairly dismissed and discredited, has demanded that the baseball club, its chairman, Tsuneo Watanabe, and the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper group pay ¥62 million in damages and run an apology in the paper.

In their countersuit, the baseball club and the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper are demanding that Kiyotake pay ¥100 million in damages stemming from his criticism of Watanabe’s alleged meddling in team affairs.

At at Nov. 11 news conference, Kiyotake, 61, accused Watanabe of a “serious corporate compliance violation” for unilaterally changing a coach selection.

The Giants fired Kiyotake on Nov. 18 for defaming the team and failing to attract strong players or foster relations with team directors, coaches and others, the Giants and the Yomiuri Shimbun group said Thursday.

The team and the newspaper group also contend that Kiyotake was mistaken in thinking that the general manager has the authority to hire the team director and coaches. The team is solely owned by The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings.

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