Billionaire Kazuo Okada, the chairman of Japanese based Universal Entertainment, had filed a case against the Japanese division of Thomson Reuters Corp and three journalists on defamation charges back in December 2012 and wanted an apology to be issued along with compensation charges of $1.8 million.
The lawsuit against Reuters was filed due to the release of a number of articles that focused on Universal Entertainment’s $40 million payment to a casino consultant in the Philippines regarding the development of the Okada Manila casino. The consultant Rodolfo Soriano was reported to be a close aid of the former head of the country’s gaming authority. The Okada Manila casino is the most expensive casino development project that the company has undertaken to date and is expected to open to the public by December 2016.
Universal Entertainment objected to the stories, stating that they made it appear that the company was making illegal payments to gambling authorities in the Philippines and engaging in bribery. The lawsuit was first dismissed by the Tokyo District Court in 2015 after the court stated that the articles were accurate and did not use any words that implied Universal was engaging in bribery or illegal payments. The court ruled that Reuters repeated key facts in the articles in order to emphasize important details.
Universal decided to appeal that decision in the Tokyo High Court and on November 17, the high court upheld the decision of the Tokyo District Court confirming that Reuters did not in any way imply that the Japanese pachinko-machine maker was involved in bribery and illegal payments in the Philippines. The three judge panel issued a 16 page report and backed up the lower court’s decision.
In a statement, Yoshihiro Toyosawa, one of the three high court judges, said “The claims made in this case by the appellant are groundless and the rejection by the district court was justifiable.” A representative of Reuters stated that the company was happy that the appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision and affirmed Reuter’s fairness and accuracy in reporting.
Universal Entertainment did not release a statement regarding the High Court’s ruling or confirm if it planned to appeal to the Supreme Court in Japan.