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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 4:52 p.m., Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Japanese billionaire's Kahala homes decried

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

This Kahala home, seen here in a file photo, was among 20 owned at one time by Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto. A city council committee today stepped into a dispute between Kawamoto and some of his neighbors over the state of the homes.

Advertiser file photo

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The Honolulu City Council will ask the consul general of Japan to begin a dialogue with Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto as part of an effort to resolve a dispute between members of the Wai'alae-Kahala Community Association and Kawamoto over dilapidated properties in Kahala, according to a resolution that passed out of a City Council committee today.

Kawamoto bought more than 20 properties in the area and rents some of them to low-income families. The billionaire has allowed many of them to fall into disrepair, according to Richard Turbin, an attorney and member of the association.

"This is a serious problem that has occurred there. He has torn down walls, he has filled up swimming pools, he has allowed the properties to be overcome by weeds," said Turbin, testifying before the council's executive matters committee. "He has done it to so many of the houses and he has blighted the neighborhood."

"I welcome Genshiro Kawamoto's investments in Hawai'i," said Councilman Charles Djou, in a news release. "Mr. Kawamoto, however, has not always been the best neighbor. "

Djou, who introduced the resolution, said "Mr. Kawamoto owns over two dozen multimillion dollar mansions in the Kahala area, but has utterly failed to follow legal property covenants to properly maintain his properties. I hope the Japanese Consulate can assist us in finally getting Mr. Kawamoto to respond to concerns from the Kahala community."

The resolution will be brought before the City Council on Oct. 15, Djou's news release said.

For more on this story, see tomorrow's edition of The Advertiser.