• Kyodo

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Individuals and companies in Japan, including major trading firms Marubeni Corp. and Itochu Corp., were listed as shareholders or directors of at least 270 entities in offshore tax havens, the so-called Panama Papers show.

The names of some 400 individuals who live in Japan appear in the documents, including the chief of the country’s leading coffee company, UCC Holdings Co.

The people named live in 32 prefectures, mainly in major cities.

Both Marubeni and Itochu claimed their investment in the same offshore entity was for business purposes and “not for tax avoidance.”

UCC Holdings also denied the aim was dodging taxes, adding that the company was “disclosing information as needed at the request of Japan’s tax authorities and has been paying taxes in a lawful manner.”

The leaked internal files from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co. contain information regarding over 200,000 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. The massive trove of files was obtained by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, with which Kyodo News is in partnership.

On Tuesday, the ICIJ decided to release on its website on May 10 at 3 a.m. Japan time all the names of the offshore companies and people behind them that appear in the Panama Papers.

According to the Panama Papers, UCC Holdings Group Chief Executive Officer and President Gota Ueshima, 47, was referred to as the sole shareholder and director, as of November 2010, of two companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The activities and business purposes of those two companies, set up in November 2000, are not clear.

The Panama Papers also said that Marubeni and Itochu gradually increased their investments in Renowned International Ltd., whose primary shareholder was a major Taiwanese company, from 1995 — two years after the company was set up in the Virgin Islands.

The two Japanese trading companies held a combined 14 percent stake in Renowned International from 2009 onward, according to the papers.

A unit of mobile communications giant SoftBank Group, it is shown to have owned a 35 percent stake in an entity set up in the Virgin Islands in 2006.

A SoftBank official said the entity was established by a Chinese information technology firm. SoftBank took a stake in the business because it was asked to do so, but it was no longer involved in it.

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