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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 1, 2002

Kawamoto delays tenants' evictions

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Flamboyant Japanese billionaire Gensiro Kawamoto, who is on a house-selling spree in Hawai'i and California, has given a 90-day extension before he evicts tenants of 570 homes he owns in California.

Kawamoto gave the tenants a state-required 30-day notice Feb. 8 and put their homes up for sale, along with "54 or 56" of the 161 condominiums and single-family homes he owns in Hawai'i, according to his Honolulu attorney, Carol Asai-Sato.

Kawamoto needs proceeds from the sales to finance an investment opportunity in either the United States or Japan, she said. It's the kind of financial opportunity that arises only once every 20 to 30 years, Asai-Sato said.

But Kawamoto's California eviction notices were met with a flurry of protests — from the California governor to the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California.

"A lot of people are writing letters to me," Asai-Sato said. "That's one of the reasons that he's giving the 90-day extensions."

The condominiums and single-family homes that Kawamoto put up for sale in Hawai'i have no eviction deadline, she said. Fifteen have gone into escrow so far.

The delay in evicting tenants from the California homes means Kawamoto has to come up with a new plan to pay for his undisclosed investment.

"He's going to have to fund it with monies elsewhere," Asai-Sato said, "which probably means his cash reserves in Japan."

Kawamoto has no accumulated debt, she said, and deals in cash only.

The delays also mean that Kawamoto will have to adjust his strategy for selling the California homes. He had originally hoped to sell the 570 houses individually and encourage the renters to buy them, Asai-Sato said.

Now Kawamoto hopes to sell them all at once to a "bulk purchaser," Asai-Sato said.