Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd (一澤帆布工業)
Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. is a cloth bag manufacturer located in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City. It is known for the tag "Kyoto-shi Higashiyama Chion-in maeagaru IchizawaHanpu sei" (made by Ichizawa Hanpu in Chion-in maeagaru, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City) stitched into the red border.
It suspended its business in 2006 due to problems over inheritance.
As a result of the problems, Shinzaburo ICHIZAWA of the founding family and craftsmen who had worked for the company left Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. and established Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu Co., Ltd. that sells similar bags.
Shintaro ICHIZAWA, the eldest son who succeeded the Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd., employed new craftsmen and began the business again on October 16, 2006 with new materials.
Ichizawa Hanpu bags are made of thick cotton and hemp materials called Hanpu (sailcloth).
The bags are featured by designs of enhanced practical use, rich color variations, and excellent durability, gaining popularity with young people as designer goods. They remain perennial favorites as bags for carrying photo equipment, mountain-climbing equipment, or geological survey equipment.
The first president Kihei ICHIZAWA (born in 1853) started a business with a laundry service and a band called KYOTO BAND. The current Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. was founded in 1905. In the Taisho period, bicycles became widely used, which created demand for tool bags hung on the bicycle: the company thus manufactured bags for workers, including pharmacists, milkmen, carpenters, gardeners, and sake dealers. After the war, the company also manufactured rucksacks and tents and became known for various bags based on bags for workers.
- Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. was established.
- Shinzaburo (the third son) retired the Asahi Shinbun Company for which he had worked and joined Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd.
- Shinzaburo (the third son) was inaugurated as the fourth president.
- Kikuo (the fourth son) retired Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd.
- Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. filed a trademark application (registered on October 8).
March 15, 2001
- Nobuo (the third president) died.
- Shintaro (the eldest son) submitted a will.
- Shinzaburo (the third son) filed a suit with the Kyoto District Court seeking reversal of the will.
- Shinzaburo (the third son) lost the suit by Supreme Court decision.
December 16, 2005
- Shinzaburo (the third son) was removed from the post of president and Shintaro (the eldest son) was inaugurated as the fifth president.
March 1, 2006
- The business was suspended.
October 16, 2006
- The business was resumed.
February 14, 2007
- Shintaro (the eldest son) filed a trademark-infringement suit and others against Shinzaburo (the third son) for 1.3 billion yen.
Supreme Court decision on two wills
The former chairman Nobuo ICHIZAWA (the third president) died on March 15, 2001. Nobuo's will left with the company attorney was opened. The will (the so-called "first will") was dated December 12, 1997, stating that among the company stocks owned by Nobuo (about 62,000 stocks out of 100,000 issued stocks), the third son Shinzaburo (then president) (a former staff of the Asahi Shinbun Company) and his wife inherit 67% stock, the fourth son Kikuo inherits 33% stock, and the eldest son Shintaro inherits most of the bank account.
However, in July 2001, four months after opening the will, the eldest son Shintaro (a former banker of UFJ Bank Limited) brought a different will (the so-called "second will") that he had received from Nobuo before his death. This will was dated March 9, 2000, stating that among the company stocks owned by Nobuo, the eldest son Shintaro inherits 80% and the fourth son Kikuo (who was involved in the business but later retired in 1996) inherits the remaining 20% (inheritance in this manner would result in about 62% company stock owned in the names of Shintaro and Kikuo).
Under the provision of the Civil Code that a subsequent will revokes earlier wills (Article 1023 of the Civil Code), the will of March 2000 has effect normally; however, since the contents of the two wills were completely inconsistent with each other, the third son Shinzaburo argued about the authenticity of the "second will" and brought the case before the court.
The third son Shinzaburo (then president) filed a suit seeking reversal of the "second will" which Shintaro owned, based on that: at the time of creating the "second will," Nobuo, who suffered a stroke, did not have the capacity to draw up a will while under conditions requiring nursing care; in contrast to the "first will" written with a brush on rolled paper with a registered seal, the "second will" was written with a ballpoint pen on letter paper (note that the form of paper is not a legal issue); and the seal placed on the second will was not "Ichizawa (一澤)," but "Ichizawa (一沢)" which was the registered family name of Shintaro (Tsunesaburo (the former president, then executive director), the younger brother of the late Nobuo, also made the same argument).
However, in the court, Shinzaburo's argument was not accepted because of "lacking sufficient evidence to rescind the validity of the will" and Shinzaburo lost the case by the Supreme Court decision in December 2004. Accordingly, the eldest son Shintaro and the fourth son Kikuo acquired about 62% stock of Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. in accordance with the "second will."
In March 2005, before the Supreme Court decision, Shinzaburo established a separate entity, Ichizawa Hanpu kakosho Ltd. (584 Shinno-cho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture; the president Yuki NISHIMURA). All 65 craftsmen worked in the manufacturing department of Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. supported Shinzaburo, who was the president for years, to transfer to Ichizawa Hanpu kakosho Ltd. Ichizawa Hanpu kakosho Ltd. continued manufacturing by renting a store and factory from Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd.
Shintaro, the largest stockholder, held a special stockholders' meeting on December 16, 2005, where he dismissed president Shinzaburo ICHIZAWA (at that time) and all directors, and Shintaro was inaugurated as president. Also, Kikuo and Shintaro's daughter were inaugurated as directors.
Independence of the Shinzaburo family and craftsmen
As Ichizawa Hanpu kakosho Ltd. operated by Shinzaburo was using the store and factory of Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd., Shintaro further filed an application for provisional disposition with the district court to obtain evacuation of the store and factory. The provisional disposition was accepted and executed compulsorily on March 1, 2006. At the same time, not only Shinzaburo but also the craftsmen who moved to Ichizawa Hanpu kakosho Ltd. left the store. Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. substantially lost the entire manufacturing department and Ichizawa Hanpu store stopped its business on March 6, 2006.
Meanwhile, Ichizawa Hanpu kakosho Ltd. operated by Shinzaburo secured another factory. On March 21, 2006, Shinzaburo announced the creation of new brands called "Shinzaburo Hanpu" and "Shinzaburo Kaban (Shinzaburo bag)" (kanji for Kaban consists of 布(on the left) and 包- on the right). Ichizawa Hanpu kakosho Ltd. resumed manufacturing under a commission from a newly established sales company, Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu Co., Ltd. On April 6, 2006, "Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu" was opened diagonally across the street (Higashioji-dori Street) of Ichizawa Hanpu store.
Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. owned by Shintaro had suspended its business since March 6, 2006, but it newly employed 10 craftsmen for the factory near the head office and 18 for the factory of a separate entity in Shikoku region (contracting out) to secure 28 craftsmen in total. Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. changed to get in materials (sailcloth) from a company in Okayama Prefecture, one of the companies to which Kurashiki Hanpu (Kurashiki sailcloth) was delivered, and began its business again on October 16, 2006 under technical assistance of Kikuo ICHIZAWA (the fourth son) to reproduce the conventional hanpu kaban (sailcloth bag). Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. criticized Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu Co., Ltd. as it copied the product of the Ichizawa Hanpu store.
In response, even after the court decision, Shinzaburo, who had his store diagonally across the Ichizawa Hanpu store, repeatedly proclaimed "the will was fake" and "the content of the (second) will trampled down the decedent's personality," expressing his dissatisfaction with the circumstances of the trouble.
Meanwhile, Asahi Kako Co., Ltd., which had delivered cloth for the bags, supported Shinzaburo and refused to have any dealings with Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. Doshisha Elementary School, which had commissioned Ichizawa Hanpu to manufacture school rucksacks, announced they would entrust the manufacturing to Ichizawa Shinzaburo Hanpu Co., Ltd.
On February 14, 2007, Shintaro filed a trademark-infringement suit and others against Shinzaburo for 1.3 billion yen.
He also reclaimed the directors' remuneration which Shinzaburo, his wife, and others received without approval from a stockholders' meeting.
Shinzaburo was passive about the suit to claim that they should compete against each other for their products.
In the same month, Shintaro recruited five craftsmen through Kyoto Shichijo public employment exchange (reference number: 26020-4057571). Any one aged up to 32 years old including an inexperienced person was eligible to apply.
According to the information disclosed at that time, Ichizawa Hanpu Co., Ltd. had a staff of ten as of the same month.