Ceiling Hole and Millions in Damages: Ex-Employee Arrested for Arson at Ginza Club | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ceiling Hole and Millions in Damages: Ex-Employee Arrested for Arson at Ginza Club

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The interior of the restaurant after the arson fire. Fortunately, no one was killed, but the flames had spread to the point that the ceiling had fallen through.

On January 17, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department arrested Keiji Inamoto, 38, a former employee with an undetermined address, on suspicion of arson of a building with no fixed address, for stealing at least six bottles of vintage whiskey, which fetched around 2 million yen each at auctions, from an exclusive members-only club in Ginza, Tokyo, and setting the locker room on fire.

Restoration costs more than 60 million yen.

The incident occurred at dawn in mid-March this year at the club “Q (pseudonym)” in Ginza 8-chome. The perpetrator wore a mask of a giant Buddha and prepared a black umbrella to hide his presence as he entered the club. Since he used to work there, he was familiar with the location of the liquor cellar and wine cellar as well as the security devices. He is suspected of taping over the lens of a surveillance camera in the changing room to steal alcoholic beverages and then setting fire to destroy the evidence.

The fire was extinguished with a blaze after the fire prevention system was activated, but the subsequent restoration work is taking time, and the restaurant is not expected to reopen until the summer. The president of “Q” told FRIDAY Digital, “There is still a smell of soot.

There is still the smell of soot, so we have to remove that as well. It will cost more than 60 million yen.

The president of “Q” revealed the following about Inamoto.

He worked for us for about eight years until he quit at the end of last year. He was a good guy, but he didn’t get along well with the staff around him. He didn’t seem to get along well with the staff around him, and he seemed to go his own way.

(About two years after he joined the company, he stole several bottles of high-grade sake and resold them. He said, “I did it on a whim,” so I told him, “Well, come back and buy (the stolen bottles). (I told him, ‘Well, come back and pay me back out of your salary for the purchase price of the bottles you stole. And now this has happened…I think, ‘You never know people.

Suntory’s “Yamazaki series” sold on the Rakuten market; a set of four bottles including 25year, 18year, and 12year was priced at nearly 10 million yen.

According to the sources, Inamoto had always been a spendthrift and had a large amount of debts. It is believed that he stole high-end bottles of “Hibiki,” “Yamazaki,” etc. from “Q,” who knew the inner workings of the restaurant, in order to pay off the debt.

Behind this arson case is the sharp rise in the price of Japanese whiskey. In the 2000s, Japanese whiskey was gaining recognition overseas, and in 2003, Suntory’s “Yamazaki” won a gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC), the world’s most prestigious liquor competition. It was recognized as a brand on par with the home brewers of England and Scotland.

In particular, sales of Yamazaki 25-nen were as low as 1,200 bottles per year, and in some years only 600 bottles were released, quickly becoming scarce and selling for 1.75 million yen, 10 times the list price, at an auction in 2010. Now that the yen has temporarily fallen to 160 yen to the dollar, it is coveted by overseas connoisseurs who will buy it for as much as 2 million yen.

Yamazaki 50year old” and “Yamazaki 55year old” fetched a whopping 54 million yen and 85 million yen, respectively, while Suntory’s “Hibiki 35year old” also has decorative value as its bottle is made of Aritayaki and Kutaniyaki ceramics and porcelain, and was sold for over 10 million yen at an auction in Hong Kong. The bar is located in Tokyo.

The owner-bartender of an authentic bar in Tokyo laments, “The ‘Yamazaki 25-year old’ is a very expensive sake.

Yamazaki 25-year-old” is not available at liquor stores, and can only be bought at auctions. Once the bottle is sealed, it deteriorates and loses its value, so few people have actually tasted it. What used to be a luxury item has become an investment.”

Another bar owner said

It’s a story above our heads now, and we can’t afford it. I am afraid that if the price goes up this high, there will be counterfeit products. It is said that there are people who are trying to make a profit by changing the contents, and empty bottles are even being sold on the Internet.

He is also very wary.

The president of the company, who once forgave Inamoto for stealing high-grade sake in the hope that the suspect would “reform,” has now “avenged” his parental love for the suspect, which is something that cannot be forgiven.

  • PHOTO Kyodo News

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