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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Magazine Fight Gets Nasty in Hawaii

HONOLULU (CN) - In a nasty fight between rival magazines, the owner of Lighthouse Hawaii Magazine claims in court that the owner of the Honolulu Times defamed him with false claims that he "had committed rape, sexual harassment [and] promot[ed] prostitution rings."

Yuzo Komiyama and Komiyama Yuzo Co. dba of Lighthouse Hawaii Magazine sued Max Iwazaki and the Honolulu Times, in Hawaii's First Circuit Court.

Komiyama publishes a "monthly Japanese language magazines for the Honolulu area called Lighthouse Hawaii Magazine, as well as in-flight magazines for Japan Airlines, Inc. ('JAL') called 'Eheu," the complaint states.

Komiyama says Lighthouse receives all of its income from selling advertising.

"Plaintiff Komiyama is the 'face' of Lighthouse Hawaii Magazine, and regularly meets potential customers to solicit their business as advertisers. The health and viability of plaintiff Lighthouse's business is therefore greatly dependent upon plaintiff Komiyama's reputation among the Japanese community in Hawaii and upon the personal relationships he has long worked to foster with customers and potential customers," the complaint states.

Iwazaki is a manager with The Honolulu Times, a "free monthly Japanese language newspaper" that competes with the Lighthouse.

Komiyama claims that in January, Iwazaki "began regularly approaching some ten to twenty of Lighthouse's existing and prospective customers, and without justification and without an honest belief in the truth of the matters asserted, announced that plaintiff Komiyama had committed rape, sexual harassment, promoting prostitution rings to executives of well-known Japanese corporations, and other crimes. Furthermore, defendant Iwazaki began harassing Lighthouse customers, explicitly demanding that they terminate their business relationship with plaintiff Lighthouse."

During the next 4 months, Komiyama says, Iwazaki published several newspaper articles containing similar "disparaging and false statements" about Komiyama's "personal and professional affairs."

In July, Komiyama says, Iwazaki "confronted plaintiff Komiyama outside his place of business and began yelling disparaging and libelous statements about plaintiff Komiyama and threatened him with physical injury. The following week, defendant Iwazaki appeared at an event where an executive of one of Lighthouse's major corporate customers was present, and he began yelling and accusing the executive of being a customer of plaintiff Komiyama's alleged prostitution ring."

Komiyama says he filed a restraining order against Iwazaki in late August, but Iwazaki refuses to honor it.

"In contravention and deliberate disobedience to this Court's order, defendant Iwazaki has continued to harass plaintiff Komiyama and has persisted in his malicious campaign of defamatory and disparaging attacks upon plaintiff Komiyama's character and continues to interfere with plaintiff Lighthouse's business relations," the complaint states.

Komiyama claims that Iwazaki damaged his personal reputation and the reputation of his magazine, and caused him to lose business.

"Lighthouse customers have, in fact, terminated their contracts with plaintiffs as a direct and proximate result of defendants' defamatory and threatening statements, and plaintiffs have accordingly suffered actual damages. Plaintiffs have also lost prospective customers which were reasonably likely to develop and would have purchased advertising space with Lighthouse Hawaii Magazine absent defendants' interference," the complaint states.

Komiyama seeks punitive damages for defamation and intentional interference with contract and prospective business advantage.

He is represented by Robert Cohen.

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