It has been more than 400 years since Nabeshima Naoshige, the wisest general of the Warring States period, whose talent was recognized even by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, ruled the Saga domain. …… In the modern era, it has become clear that even the wisest general, Naoshige, is in surprising trouble.
Mr. Toshimasa Nabeshima, 60, is in court over a famous sword, a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation. Nabeshima Toshimasa, 60, is a descendant of Tadashige, the second son of Naoshige, who ruled the Kashima domain, a branch of the Saga domain.
“When my father passed away about 10 years ago, my mother inherited two of the nine swords and I inherited the remaining seven.
I have been living in the U.S. for more than 30 years and kept the seven swords in our family apartment in Akasaka, Tokyo, but one day my sister’s husband, my brother-in-law A, suggested that I keep the swords because it would be dangerous to leave them there.
As for my mother’s two swords, my sister also took them, saying, ‘I’ll keep them because I don’t want them to be sold without permission. After that, I told him that I wanted my swords back for property management reasons, but he didn’t respond at all.
So, in May of 2006, Shunga first demanded the return of the two swords in his mother’s name. In July of the same year, a provisional seizure was approved by the court, and a court executioner was sent to Mr. and Mrs. A’s house. Maki Hirakawa, a lawyer at the law firm UNO, who is representing Mr. Toshimasa, said, “We can’t get the two swords back.
“We were able to get two of the strikes back. For the remaining seven, we have been filing for arbitration against Mr. A for restitution since this year.
However, unlike the two that have been returned to Toshimasa, the remaining seven have been difficult to claim back.
“After my father’s death, my mother had the swords registered in her name. However, the seven swords that I had kept were still registered in my father’s name. In response to my request for return, Mr. A claimed that he did not receive the swords from me, but from my father. If that is the case, the right to demand the return of the sword would not be mine, but my late father’s. In other words, the demand for the return of the sword would not be enforceable. In other words, the demand for the return of the sword is not enforceable.
It was a courtroom battle just like the Warring States Period. There are other lawsuits going on between Shunga, Mr. A and his sister.
“After my father’s death, Mr. A became the president of the trading company he ran, called Overseas Products. After my father’s death, Mr. A took over as president of the trading company that my father had run. The company was on the verge of collapse after my father’s death, so I was determined to rebuild it together with Mr. A.” (Toshimasa)
However, the company’s financial difficulties continued, and the Nabeshima family had to sell their land in Shinjuku, Tokyo, to raise working capital. Mr. Makoto Sugitani of Flex Consulting Law Office, another lawyer representing Mr. Toshimasa, said.
Mr. Sugitani, another lawyer representing Mr. Toshimasa, said, “They tried to escape their financial difficulties by putting 15 million yen of the profit from the sale of the land into ‘overseas products. The money was transferred from the Nabeshima family’s group company, which owned the land, to Overseas Bussan via Mr. Toshimasa’s personal account in the form of an investment.
However, Mr. A later claimed that the money given from the Nabeshima family’s group company to Mr. Toshimasa was a loan from the Nabeshima family to Mr. Toshimasa, and filed a lawsuit demanding repayment of the 15 million yen. Behind the lawsuit is probably the desire to get rid of Mr. Toshimasa from ‘Bussan Overseas’.
When I interviewed Toshimasa’s sister by phone, she replied, “I’m not sure. I also asked her husband, Mr. A’s lawyer, for an interview, but he replied, “I can’t answer that because of confidentiality obligations.
Mr. Toshimasa explains his feelings.
“The truth of the matter is that I am simply disgusted with Mr. A. If he returns the sword, I will be very disappointed. If the swords are returned to us, we plan to donate them all to the museum after a proper appraisal. We have already informed the Saga Prefectural Government of our intention to do so.
What will happen to the famous swords?
From the September 10, 2021 issue of FRIDAY
Photo： Takayuki Ogawauchi, Kyodo News (Saga Castle Ruins)