• ホーム
  • 事務所紹介
  • 国内・海外拠点
  • 業務内容
  • 弁護士等紹介
  • 講演・セミナー
  • 著書・論文
  • 採用情報

ホーム > 事務所紹介 > 長島安治弁護士の手記 > 第22回 東京ヒルトン事件(その一)

ここから本文です。

第22回 東京ヒルトン事件(その一)

1967年4月下旬、私は徳山ソーダの依頼を受け、同社が米国のガルフ・オイルから技術を導入する契約の交渉のため同社の担当者と共にテキサス州ヒューストンのガルフ・オイル本社に出張していました。交渉は順調に進んで主要な事項については悉く合意に達し、僅かに残ったいくつかの事項については翌朝の会議で片付けようということになり、ホテルに戻ったその夕刻、ニューヨークの未知の人物から電話がかかってきました。Hilton InternationalのGeneral Counselのシドニー・ウィルナーと名乗ったその人物は、差し迫った口ぶりですぐに東京へ戻って欲しいと言いましたので、驚いた私が訳を尋ねると、千代田区永田町の東京ヒルトンホテル(現在のキャピトル東急)はその所有者東急電鉄とのマネージメント契約に基づきHilton Internationalがマネージしてきたが、その契約を東急が一方的に解除してホテルに乗り込みコントロールしてしまったので、すぐ裁判所に仮処分命令を申請しホテルの経営を取り戻さなければならない。この件については、ヒルトンの日本のローカル・カウンセルのトーマス・ブレークモア弁護士に相談してきていたが、訴訟になれば日本の弁護士事務所に依頼する必要があるといって所沢・長島法律事務所を推薦してきた、自分もすぐに東京に行くから一刻も早く東京に戻って欲しい、とのことでした。私は即座に同氏の依頼を承知しました。そして翌朝、ガルフ・オイルとの残りの交渉を済ませ、その日の飛行機で東京に帰り、すぐさま福井さん、穂積さん、それから当時入所したばかりの弁護士中村誠一さんと共にブレークモア法律事務所のブレークモア、三ツ木、田中、牧野の各氏と会い、事情を聴取し、翌日追いかけて出張してきたウィルナー氏を加え、全速力で仮処分申請の準備を開始しました。この紛争はいち早く、日本のみでなく米国でも報道され、戦後初めての日・米の著名な企業間の法廷紛争必至と注目されていました。当時のその雰囲気をよく伝えている代表的な記事としてワシントン・ポストの1967年4月23日付けの記事を次に引用します。紛争の概要も概ね正しく記されています。

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON, D. C.
D. 444,396 SUN. 553,012
APR 23 1967

Precedent Feared
Seizure of Tokyo Hilton Alarms U.S. Companies
By Richard Halloran
Washington Post Foreign Service
TOKYO, April 22 - The takeover of the Hilton Hotel by its Japanese financiers has alarmed the American business community here.
Carl H. Boehringer, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, said today that "we are more than shocked." He told a press conference, "We have heard that the Japanese have a different attitude toward the sanctity of contracts from that held by Americans. But in all the years I've been here, I've never heard of a more glaring breach of contract."
The Hilton was seized yesterday by Noboru Goto, president of the Tokyo hotel concern, who unilaterally declared the management contract between Hilton and Tokyu void and changed the name of the hotel to Hotel Japan-Tokyu.
Goto notified Hilton a month ago that he wanted to terminate the contract, Hilton executives said, but Conrad Hilton rejected it and offered to arbitrate. Goto, they said, never answered Hilton's letter.
Boehringer was seconded by A. Lewis Burridge, regional vice president of Winthrop Laboratories and a past president of the Chamber of Commerce. Burridge said that the

See HILTON, A25, Col. 1

HILTON―From Page A1
Japanese Takeover Alarms U.S. Firms
dispute between Hilton and Tokyu "will have an impact wider than a mere commercial contract. This is really in an area of international morality."
The Tokyo Hilton general manager, Anthony Clegg, and Hilton International's regional vice president, Kenneth Moss, who flew in from Hong Kong last night, reiterated the details of the takeover. They released letters from Conrad Hilton to Goto, and denied Goto's charges that Hilton had violated the operating contract.
Goto contended that Hilton violated the agreement when the parent company spun off Hilton International in 1964 and negotiated a merger with Trans World Airline that is scheduled to be approved by stockholders on April 27.

Injunction Sought
Clegg and Moss indicated today that Tokyu's dissatisfaction with having to share profits with Hilton was more likely the cause.
[Clegg was evicted from his suite and Naoki Hoshino, a former minister in the wartime Tojo Cabinet, was appointed manager of the 10-floor, 478-room hotel, Reuters reported.]
Beneath the immediate problem lies a fundamental issue with which American businessmen here have had to contend since the day Townsend Harris signed the first commercial treaty between the Untied States and Japan on July 29, 1859.

Soft Contracts
In Japanese business ethics, a contract or agreement is considered valid only so long as both parties want to continue it, regardless of the legal stipulations. If the conditions under which a contract was signed change, then a Japanese feels that it is proper to renegotiate or to cancel the agreement without further ado.
Further, a contract in Japan is generally observed only so long as both parties have some kind of power to enforce it. If one party has no power it is considered cricket within the Japanese business ethic for the other to do as he pleases.
The Japanese legal code reinforces this custom. Courts here are notoriously slow and the legal process cumbersome, making resort to legal action the last that a businessman undertakes.

Other Americans Fearful
Further, Japanese courts are inclined to seek for an out-of-court compromise rather than rule on a case on its legal merits, and will often let a case drag on for years to that end.
Both Japanese and foreign observers here felt that Hilton thus has little chance of getting a favorable verdict from the court. Beyond the aspect of custom, a heavy dose of Japanese nationalism has become evident, which will work in Goto's favor.
It is against this background that the Hilton case has sent shudders down the spines of American businessmen here. Hundreds of American companies have technical operating agreements with Japanese companies similar to that of Hilton. If Tokyu can lower the boom on Hilton, they reason, what protection do we have?
The Hilton case is also connected with another basic disagreement between Japanese and American business interests, that of foreign investment here. The impact abroad of the Hilton experience is likely to scare off American and other potential private investors - which is precisely what a large segment of the Japanese business community wants.
Yet the treaty of friendship, commence, and navigation between Japan and the United States (and other nations, either bilaterally or through most favored nation clauses) states that American citizens may invest in Japan on the same basis as Japanese citizens and vice versa.

Reciprocity Seen Denied
Burridge referred to this today when he pointed out that the Japanese cancellation of Hilton's contract was, in effect, a denial "of the small bit of reciprocity here in return for the Japanese encroachment in the American hotel industry." Several Japanese have invested in major hotels in the United States, especially in Hawaii. Hilton was the only American Hotel here.
Clegg and Moss indicated that if they are not able to patch up their differences with Tokyu, Hilton is still interested in having the Hilton name in Tokyo and would be looking for another opportunity to stay in business here. Clegg said that the Hilton office and reservation service would continue to operate.

この記事を読んで、私は日本人の契約に対する考え方や日本の裁判についてのこのような偏った見方が、ワシントン・ポストのような国際的に名の通った有力紙に出たことを実に口惜しく思い、クライアントのためには勿論だが、日本人と日本の裁判のためにこの訴訟にはどんなことがあっても勝たなければならない、しかも短期決戦で迅速に勝たなければならない、と強く思いました。福井さん、穂積さん、中村さんも同じ思いだったと思います。ブレークモアさんは、訴訟は所沢・長島法律事務所が主導するのがよいとのお考えでしたから、私がlead counselになり、ウィルナー氏(Harvard Law Schoolの優等生で、当時50才位)は虎屋ビルの私たちのオフィスに終日詰め、私達4人と共に、戦術を練り、証拠集めをし、陳述書を作り、東京地裁に対する仮処分申請の準備に没頭しました。何しろ、上記の記事にあるように、東京ヒルトンホテルは東急側に実力で乗っ取られ、ヒルトンが派遣した英国人のゼネラルマネージャークレッグ氏は自分のオフィスから追い出され、ホテルの名称はホテル・ジャパン東急と変えられ、ホテルの玄関前のポールに掲げられていたヒルトンの旗は東急の旗に取り代えられ、ホテルの中で客に配るマッチ箱までラベルの表示をヒルトンから東急に代えられていたという有様ですから、ヒルトンの名声を維持し、被害を最小限に食い止めるために、ホテルの経営を一日も早く東急から取り戻さなければならなかったのです。中でも、私達の中で訴訟経験が最も多かった福井さんの打ち込み方はすさまじく、殆ど不眠不休のため眼に青黒い隈をつくりながら懸命に働いていた様子を、今でも眼に浮かべることができます。

[2003年11月執筆]
(つづく)