This is a man who never ceases to be talked about.
On November 4, it was announced that Ikuhiro Kiyota, 35, filed a lawsuit against his former team, the Chiba Lotte Marines, and the first oral argument was held at the Tokyo District Court. Kiyota claims that the decision to terminate his contract was an abuse of the right to dismiss him, and is seeking confirmation of his status as a player with the team, as well as about 97 million yen in compensation.
Kiyota filed his complaint on September 30 of this year. Why did he take the trouble to file the lawsuit in the middle of the championship race? I called Kiyota on his cell phone.
“I’d like to talk to you, but I’m afraid I have to go through ……. Please go through my lawyer.
He said. So we asked Shuichi Okubo, the lawyer representing Kiyota at Junpo Law Office. First, let’s talk about the contents of the lawsuit.
“We’re asking the team for (1) confirmation of our status, (2) approximately 21 million yen in unpaid compensation from May 23 to the filing of the lawsuit, (3) compensation to be paid from October to December of next year, and (4) 11 million yen in compensation.
The circumstances that led to the lawsuit were explained as follows.
“Before the indefinite suspension in January, Mr. Kiyota had been in talks with the baseball team through the players’ association. However, the team did not respond to the collective bargaining agreement in good faith, suspended him indefinitely, and then unilaterally terminated his contract in May. We believe that this is an unfair labor practice and is legally unacceptable.
We, as Mr. Kiyota’s personal representatives, sent a content-certified letter to the team in June and had repeated discussions with them, but in mid-August, the team unilaterally notified us that they were suspending negotiations with us. As it was difficult to resolve the issue through talks, we came to the conclusion that we had no choice but to file a lawsuit.
Lotte responded to our request for an interview.
“We would like to refrain from commenting on this matter as it is still pending.
We will not comment on this matter.
This is the first time I’ve seen such a thing.
“If you want to argue abuse of the right to dismiss, you have to assume that Mr. Kiyota was a worker employed by the team. However, given the fact that they withhold decisions on annual salaries and have more freedom in their practice schedules, top professional baseball players are generally considered to be sole proprietors.
And even if they are recognized as workers, can it even be called ‘abuse of the right to dismiss’? At a time when the entire country is trying to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, it is hard to deny that repeatedly acting without considering the risk of infection is a serious act of misconduct. If the team allows Mr. Kiyota to go, it will be asked whether it is a team that accepts such behavior and its attitude toward compliance. My impression is that this will be a difficult trial for Mr. Kiyota.
In any case, there is no doubt that Lotte is very angry with Kiyota. It’s hard to imagine any other team wanting to acquire a man who has caused so much trouble.
But even so, Kiyota says he is not giving up on his comeback. G.G. Sato, who has been supporting Kiyota since he was released from his contract with Lotte, told us.
“I still accompany Kiyota to practice once or twice a month. But even I was not informed of the oral arguments to be held on November 4. Apparently, he had forgotten about it, too. He didn’t even imagine that it would be reported so widely. That’s a bit naive of him, but he’s like a baseball kid who has grown up.
In the eyes of Mr. Sato, Kiyota still seems to have the ability to be a professional. ……
“I’m not sure how the trial will affect his return, but he hasn’t received any offers at this point. I’d like to support Kiyota to the point where he’s done enough to have no regrets, even if it means getting some closure.
On December 8, a joint tryout for 12 teams will be held. When I asked Kiyota about his intentions to participate in the tryouts, he replied
“I’m not sure at all.
I’m not sure at all.
What will become of Kiyota? This magazine will continue to report on the Kiyota trial in detail.
From the November 26, 2021 issue of FRIDAY
Photo by： Toshikatsu Tanaka (3rd photo) Photo： Courtesy of Mr. Sato