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What is the problem in question ?
The problem happened in December 2017 between the Councils of the Japan Association in the U.K. (Established in 1996, approx.350 members), registered charity organisation in the U.K. and Masaaki Takahima, a JA member and the administrator of this Shukatsuweb. There are following two problems.
|1）Alleged copyright infringement and its damage compensation caused by Shukatsuweb Ending Note, which was listed on Shukatsuweb on 12th October 2017
2）￡3,500 expense paid by the Councils to the solicitor’s office on this issue in December 2017
What is Ending Note ?
Ending Note is a document on which you write down your wishes and / or messages on your own medical / care services, inheritance, will, funerals etc in detail in preparation for your death or such a time when it becomes difficult for you to communicate with your surrounding families, close relatives, agents etc. It cannot be regarded as such a legal document as LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) or Will but the importance of Ending Note has increasingly been recognised in Japan in recent years.
Will you explain more details about those two problems ?
According to the request from Mrs. Takenaka, then Manager of JA Wellfare / NALC UK Dept., in May 2017, Takashima compiled voluntarily NALC UK Ending Note for Japanese old people living in the UK in bilingual of Japanese and English, referring to NALC Ending Note published by Nippon Active Life Club (NALC), one of the largest voluntary organisations in Japan. Then, Takashima asked Mrs. Takenaka for her approval to release to the public Shukatsuweb containing a free download of NALC UK Ending Note created by himself as one of his voluntary activities, sending email to her on 27th September 2017. After receipt of her verbal approval and subsequent email, Takashima released his Shukatsuweb to the public on 2nd October 2017.
|Afterwards, however, Mrs. Takenaka asked Takashima for the deletion of NALC UK Ending Note from his Shukatsuweb, sending him an email on 10th October and he deleted it on the same day. He, then, changed the title of NALC UK Ending Note for Shukatsuweb Ending Note with the addition of some information on medical / care systems, inheritance, will etc in the U.K. and Japan and listed it on his Shukatsuweb and notified Mrs. Takenaka of his action on 12th October 2017 accordingly, to which there was no reply from her.
|Two months later, however, Takashima, to his surprise, received a letter from a UK solicitor’s office dated 18th December 2017.
What was mentioned in the letter ？
The letter from the solicitor’s office specified that Takashima had compiled NALC UK Ending Note as well as Shukatsuweb Ending Note without the permission of NALC Japan, referring to NALC Ending Note and listed them on his Shukatsuweb without the permission from NALC Japan, which resulted in the damage of the credibility between NALC Japan and JA. Accordingly, the Councils decided the suspension of the JA membership of Takashima to investigate this matter further and possible compensation of the damage and his annual membership fee of ￡12 would shortly be refunded to Takashima.
Then, what happened next ?
Takashima replied back to the Councils, saying that he had listed NALC UK / Shukatsuweb Ending Notes on his Shukatsuweb, keeping close contact with Mrs. Takenaka by sending emails to her on 27th September, 2nd and 12th October 2017 and it was not acceptable to Takashima that the Councils had decided the suspension of JA membership of Takashima one-sidedly without hearing his counterargument and he sent the cheque of ￡12.00 back to the Councils.
Then, what happened next ?
According to the request of Takashima, a hearing took place on 11th January 2018 on this issue. Surprisingly, however, then Vice Chairwoman and current Chairwoman Mrs. Williams claimed that the problem was not copyright infringement / damage compensation of Shukatsuweb Ending Note but the real problem was the fact that Takashima had kept listing NALC UK Ending Note insisting on his copyright, even though Mrs. Takenaka asked Takashima to delete it from his website several times by her emails / meetings with him. (For details, please refer to the document which Mrs. Williams read out at the hearing.)
|Takashima replied back to the Councils at the 2nd hearing of 21st February 2018, claiming that Takashima had never received such emails from Mrs. Takenaka nor had had meetings with her several times at that time, adding that he had deleted NALC UK Ending Note immediately from his Shukatsuweb upon receipt of her email on 10th October 2017 and asked Mrs. Takenaka when exactly she had sent such emails to Takashima or had had meetings with him several times. She kept her silence without reply and instead, Mr. Sano, then Chairman of JA replied that the phrase of “several times” of her emails or meetings was not of literal sense but used in a figurative way.
Then, what happened next ?
There had been several meetings between Mr. Sano and/or other Council members and Takashima but those meetings ended without outcome. Then, with entreaty from Mr. Sano, Takashima submitted finally to him a letter of apology on 18th July 2018 and his JA membership suspension was eventually withdrawn on 1st September 2018.
Then, has the problem not been solved finally ?
Takashima thought the problem of copyright infringement / damage compensation of Shukatsuweb Ending Note had finally been solved. However, Takashima was surprisingly told by Mr. Sano on 31st August 2018 that the Councils had been forced to pay ￡3,000 (actually ￡3,500）to the solicitor’s office to his regret as consulting fee of this problem. Then, Takashima asked Mr. Sano why the Councils had to pay ￡3,500 to the solicitor’s office to solve such a problem, which is not legal issue, by emails / letters / general meetings repeatedly but there had been no reply from him at all.
|1) Takashima sent an email to Mr. Sano on 5th September 2018 （No reply）
2) Takashima put a question at JA annual general meeting on 24th January 2019 (Question was prohibited by Mr. Sano, Chairman of the general meeting.)
3) Takashima submitted a motion to the annual general meeting of 7th December 2019 to resolve this matter. (Mr. Hanaoka, Chairman of the annual general meeting proposed to discuss this matter at the separate meeting.)
4) Takashima sent a letter to Mr. Sano on 11th December 2019. (No reply)
5) Takashima had a meeting with Mr. Hanaoka, Vice Chairman of JA on 17th January 2020. （Mr. Sano did not attend the meeting.)
6) Takashima sent a letter to Mr. Sano dated 25th January 2020. (No reply)
7) Takashima submitted a motion to resolve this matter at the annual general meeting of 26th February 2021. (Mr. Hanaoka proposed the Councils meeting to discuss this matter separately but it did not happen.)
|At the meeting with Vice Chairman Mr. Hanaoka on 17th January 2020, however, Takashima learned a very surprising and important fact from him, which is that in reply to Takashima’s question of whether the Councils had actually investigated this matter of copyright infringement / damage compensation of Shukatsuweb Ending Note or not, Mr. Hanaoka replied to Takashima that the Councils had actually received the report from the solicitor’s office in December 2017 together with a copy of the letter sent to Takashima dated 18th December 2017. Then, Takashima asked Mr. Hanaoka to disclose the report from the solicitor’s office but he replied that it would be unlikely because it was an internal document sent by the solicitor’s office to the Councils. Then, Takashima asked then Chairman Mr. Sano for the disclosure of the report from the solicitor’s office, sending him an email on 25th January 2020 but no reply from him again.
|Why should the Councils hide the fact that they had eventually received the report from the solicitor’s office and its contents ? The answer to that question would most probably be that the solicitor’s office might have concluded that there would be no copyright infringement on Takashima’s Shukatsuweb Ending Note, which was not what the Councils had expected and it was inconvenient for them to disclose it to Takashima. Because of this, then Vice Chairwoman Mrs. Williams had to make an excuse at the hearing of 11th January 2018 that the real problem was not a copyright infringement of Takashima’s Shukatsuweb Ending Note but Takashima had ignored repeated requests from Mrs. Takenaka to delete NALC UK Ending Note from his Shukatsuweb, which was found untrue later.
|Then, the next question is why the Councils had arranged with the solicitor’s office to send a letter dated 18th December 2017 to Takashima notifying him that they had suspended JA membership of Takashima in order to investigate the problem of copyright infringement / damage compensation, even though the Councils had already received the report from the solicitor’s office by that time, of which time sequence does not look right and it looks quite strange. The Councils are always supposed to act and judge the things fairly and rightly but if Takashima’s assumption is right, what the Councils had done should not be justifiable from the view points of compliance and governance.
Which parts of Shukatsuweb Ending Note, on earth, were thought to have been infringing copyright of NALC Ending Note issued by NALC Japan ?
Strangely enough, it had not been made clear to Takashima by the Councils at all despite his repeated requests from December 2017 through to July 2021 even when Chairwoman Mrs. Williams claimed that the Council had duly received a report from the solicitor’s office saying there had been copyright infringement problem on Takashima’s Shukatsuweb Ending Note.
|It should not be practically possible to say that there is a copyright infringement only by the fact that it was complied in reference to somebody else’s work without indicating which parts are similar specifically. It is unthinkable that the solicitor’s office should have issued such a report, meaning that Chairwoman Mrs. Williams and / or the Councils as well might have been hiding or distorting the facts.
What is the difference of views between the Councils and Takashima regarding the expense of ￡3,500 paid by the Councils to the solicitor’s office in December 2017 ?
The Councils insist that they have the legitimate power to expend such amount at their discretion and there should be no problem because the financial statement for the year of 2017 / 2018 including that particular expense of ￡3,500 was approved by the annual general meeting held on 24th January 2019.
|On the other hand, Takashima argues that JA members have the legitimate right to ask for the question at the general meeting according to the clause no. 27 of the article and the approval of the financial statement for 2017/2018 was invalid because the Chairman Mr. Sano prohibited unlawfully such a question at the annual general meeting of 24th January 2019.
What is Takashima’s question regarding the expense of ￡3,500 paid by the Councils to the solicitor’s office in December 2017 ?
Takashima’s questions are as below.
|1) Why did the Councils consult the solicitor’s office in the first place, paying ￡3,500 rather than trying to solve the issue by having a discussion with Takashima ? When was such investigation by the solicitor’s office carried out and what was the outcome and what did the Councils do after receipt of the report from the solicitor’s office ?
2) Even if Takashima had been found to be infringing the copyright of NALC Ending Note, the amount of the damage would probably be ￡30～￡50 judging from the past sales record of NALC Ending Note over the last several years in the UK. How can the expense of ￡3,500 be justified for such a tiny thing ?
3) The copyright owner of NALC Ending Note is not JA but NALC Japan, who had no intention of taking copyright issue up legally in the UK at all. What was JA’s intention by paying ￡3,500 to the solicitor’s office ? Was it not simply a waste of money ?
|Takashima assumes that the actual facts of this problem were Mrs. Takenaka, then Manager of Wellfare / NALC UK Dept. raised this issue at the Councils meeting of 12th December 2017 and after being told that she should consult a solicitor’s office, she proceeded with this matter further without getting the Councils’ approval for the estimate of consultation fee ￡3,500. Then, the Councils had got surprised to have received the invoice of ￡3,500 from the solicitor’s office later but they had no other choice but to pay the invoice reluctantly.
Then, what happened next ?
Then, Chairwoman Mrs. Williams sent an email to Takashima dated 9th July 2021, stating followings.
|“Even though Takashima mentioned that there had been no copyright infringement problem, it was not the case. According to the report of the solicitor’s office, there had actually been copyright infringement problem. However, since the owner of the copyright of NALC Ending Note was NALC Japan but not JA, the Council had decided not to pursue this matter further to save possible legal expense. Instead, the Councils decided the suspension of Takashima’s JA membership because of his unworthy behaviour. Regarding the solicitor’s fee, the Council had duly received their quotation beforehand and approved it as being reasonable.”
Then, what happened next ?
Takashima asked Chairwoman Mrs. Williams to show him the proof by disclosing the report from the solicitor’s office, sending her the emails on 10th and 12th July 2021. Regarding her claim that the Councils had duly obtained beforehand the quotation of consultation fee from the solicitor’s office, it clearly contradicts various remarks made by other Council members at that time.
|1）Vice Chairman Mr. Hanaoka’s remark made at the hearing of 11th January 2018
“The Councils has surprisingly received an invoice from a solicitor’s office for a huge amount and been wondering how to settle it from accounting point of view.” (Secretary Mrs. Winter must have recorded the hearing and this can be checked.)
2）Remark made by Secretary Mrs. Winter at the Lunch party held in January 2018
“JA has recently received a huge invoice from a solicitor’s office to her surprise.” (Heard from a participant of the lunch party)
3）Remark made by then Chairman Mr. Sano at the meeting with Takashima on 31st August 2018
“It was very regretful that JA had been forced to pay ￡3,000 (actual amount was ￡3,500） to the solicitor’s office for such a worthless matter.”
|Furthermore, according to the minutes of the Councils meeting held on 12th December 2017 which Takashima obtained from the third person, there was no record of the approval of ￡3,500 consulting fee to the solicitor’s office, either. At which Councils meeting was such an estimate of ￡3,500 approved ? Who is saying the true story and who is misunderstanding or saying the false story ?
|Additionally, in reply to Takashima’s question as to the purpose of the expense of ￡3,500 paid by the Councils in December 2017 at the extraordinary JA general meeting on 25th June 2021, Mr. Hanaoka, Vice Chairman of JA replied that the expense was for the consultation of how JA should continue its activities as charity organisation and the Councils had no intention of disclosing its contents to JA members and if Takashima has any opinion on this matter, he should propose an extraordinary general meeting. Mr. Hanaoka’s such statement is obviously contradictory to what he, himself, mentioned at the hearing of 11th January 2018, i.e., the Councils had surprisingly received an invoice from UK solicitor’s office for a huge amount and been wondering how to settle it from accounting point of view. Takashima wonders which statement is true and which is untrue.
|Takashima asked Chairwoman Mrs. Williams to disclose the report from the solicitor’s office as a proof of what she stated, sending a letter to her on 3rd November 2021. Unless otherwise, Takashima would strongly demand Chairwoman Mrs. Williams to withdraw her groundless statement and make apology to Takashima for her false accusation / power harassment against him accordingly. So far, no reply from her.
What do you think is the true nature of this problem ?
Takashima does not believe that the true nature of this problem is such a copyright infringement / damage compensation against Takashima’s Shukatsuweb Ending Note. Takashima uploaded Shukatsuweb Ending Note on his Shukatsuweb free of charge as one of his voluntary activities for old Japanese living in the UK and he had no intention of getting any profit / reward from his activity at all. Who on earth would take such a harsh action involving a solicitor’s office against such a person who had simply been doing voluntary activities.
|Takashima suspects that Mrs. Takenaka got feared narrow-mindedly that her business territories of her Wellfare / NALK UK Dept. might be invaded by Takashima. Then, she, making full use of her position as a JA Council member, fabricated such a problem of copyright infringement / damage compensation against him with the malicious intention of removing him from JA. She thought that Takashima would leave JA if he was sent such an English letter from the solicitor’s office notifying him of his JA membership suspension with a refund of JA annual membership fee.
|However, having received a series of counterarguments from Takashima unexpectedly, she could not prove anything at all which she had stated.
|Initially, the Councils might have believed what Mrs. Takenaka had claimed at the Councils meeting. However, the more they heard Takashima’s counterarguments, the more they had got doubtful and started feeling that there might have been some misunderstanding on their part or misrepresentation of the facts. Takashima would sincerely ask the Councils to disclose the truth of this matter with their courage and repent for their wrongdoing and take necessary measures to prevent recurrence of similar problems in the future rather than denying any dialogue with Takashima saying this matter had finally been closed long before.
Why do you think so ?
It is because Mrs. Takenaka mentioned followings in her letter to Takashima dated 11th February 2019. “Current activities which Takashima is performing compete with NALC UK, causing Conflicts of Interests. If Takashima ceases such similar activities to NALC UK, we may consider your participation to our activities, in which case please inform us accordingly for our consideration.”
|Voluntary activity should not be done in pursuit of any interest or profit of individuals / organisations and it should be done in the spirit of mutual help. JA should be the group of those people who share those ideas. Takashima wonders how you can exclude those people who do similar voluntary activities even outside JA.
What do you intend to do from now on ?
Takashima demanded strongly Chairwoman Mrs. Williams to disclose the report from the solicitor as stated in her email dated 9th July 2021 if she still insists that the report really specified that there had been copyright infringement on Shukatsuweb Ending Note and because of this unworthy behaviour as a JA member, the Councils had suspended JA membership of Takashima.
|If the report from the solicitor’s office would not be disclosed to Takashima, then Takashima would demand Chairwoman Mrs. Williams to withdraw her statement and apologise to Takashima in writing for her groundless and false accusation / power harassment against Takashima. If she does, Takashima would willingly accept her apology and this matter would finally be solved and closed for good.
|For this purpose, Takashima sent a letter of accusation to Secretary Mrs. Winter on 6th December 2021 to accuse Chairwoman Mrs. Williams for her false accusation / power harassment against Takashima.
Then, what happened ?
There was no response from JA Councils at all and Takashima raised this matter at the Annual General Meeting held on 3rd December 2022. Surprisingly, however, Mrs. Momoko Williams stated that she had not known the true story of this matter and she had just sent her email to Takashima on 9th July 2021 following the suggestion from other JA Councils members, even though she admided that she had seen the investigation report from the solicitor. Then, Mrs. Chizuko Winter, the current Chairwoman of JA, intervened and stated that this matter would not be discussed further either at the Councils meeting or Annual General Meeting because this matter had already been solved, adding that Takashima should file a lawsuit to the court on this matter if he would like to pursue this matter further.
Then, what are you going to do ?
Takashima would like to file a lawsuit on this matter and is consulting a solicitor at present. For details of the draft of the claim form, click here.