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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

April 2, 2007

Written by C.N.

Japanese Billionaire Gives Away Mansions to Poor

In recent years, many of my posts about the Japanese have focused on their denial of their military’s war crimes and atrocities during World War II. However, it’s important to also point out instances in which certain Japanese are using their power and influence to do good deeds. As CBS News reports, a Japanese real estate billionaire is letting poor Native Hawaiians live in several of his million-dollar mansions for free:

Japanese real estate mogul Genshiro Kawamoto handed over three of his many multimillion-dollar homes in Oahu’s priciest neighborhood to homeless and low-income Native Hawaiian families. . . . Kawamoto plans to open eight of his 22 Kahala neighborhood homes to needy Hawaiian families. He says they will be able to stay in the homes for up to 10 years. . . .

The billionaire is one of Japan’s richest men. He said he was embarking on the unusual venture because it made him happy. He also gave each family 10 $100 bills to help them move in. Native Hawaiians are disproportionately represented among the state’s homeless and working poor. . . .

He has been criticized for evicting tenants of his rental homes on short notice so he could sell the properties, as in 2002, when he gave hundreds of California tenants 30 days to leave. Two years later, he served eviction notices to tenants in 27 Oahu rental homes, saying they had to leave within a month. He said he wanted to sell the houses to take advantage of rising prices.

As the article notes, Kawamoto has been criticized for being cold and greedy in the past regarding his real estate dealings and that his history has led many to question whether he has ulterior motives for this current act of altruism. Perhaps he’s looking for some tax write-offs for this kind of “philanthropy” Or he is trying to atone for his past deeds of greed.

Whatever his motives may be, I think he deserves praise for finally using his wealth and power to help those who are less fortunate. He might have some other motivations besides pure sympathy for these Native Hawaiian families, but he’s smart enough to know that now that he’s committed himself in such a public way to help these families, he can’t turn around and screw them later without being completely ostracized by humanity.

It’s also nice that he’s chosen to help Native Hawaiian families, who don’t get nearly the amount of attention that they should in regard to how their land was basically stolen from them and the level of systematic discrimination they’ve faced in their own native land — similar, I suppose, to what American Indians have faced here on the mainland.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Japanese Billionaire Gives Away Mansions to Poor" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/04/japanese-billionaire-gives-away-mansions-to-poor/> ().

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