Progress report of the copyright infringement of Akira YOSHIDA’s work Shibuya Neko Hariko and announcement on an unveiling exhibition for the restored work

[The original Japanese version was published on November 22, 2023]

To the supporters of Akira Yoshida and all those concerned.

We sincerely thank you for the tremendous support you have provided since our announcement on February 23, 2023 regarding the unauthorized alteration of Akira Yoshida’s work Shibuya Neko Hariko into an entirely different form. Since reclaiming the work and its ownership in mid-April, Yoshida has been assiduously engaged in its restoration work every day. In mentally and physically challenging circumstances, the sole driving force to continue the task has been the warm words of encouragement from all of you. It was difficult and painful for the artist to face the damage done to the work, but his dedication and hard work over the past six months have been worth it, and the restoration of the work has now been completed. Once again, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for your extraordinary support.

 While continuing the restoration work, we have been negotiating with Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. (“Mitsui Fudosan”)—the ex-owner of the work, and MOTHER Entertainment Inc. (“MOTHER Entertainment”)—that actually altered the work, to resolve the issue.
Recently, Mitsui Fudosan has finally acknowledged the following facts leading to the alterations and will be issuing a letter of apology.

・The construction application submitted by MOTHER Entertainment to Mitsui Fudosan included a drawing of the work, and in close proximity, textual information such as “maneki neko (beckoning cat) black art wrapping” and “multi-color lighting.”
・Despite being in a position to maintain the work in good condition based on the initial agreement (between the artist and Mitsui Fudosan), Mitsui Fudosan neglected to proactively confirm the anticipated alterations. In this regard, they acknowledge that their response was inadequate.

On the other hand, although MOTHER Entertainment, the company that had actually altered the work, responded on October 3rd last year stating that they had altered the work with permission from Mitsui Fudosan, during subsequent negotiations after the work was returned, the only response has been from Mitsui Fudosan, stating, “confirmed with MOTHER Entertainment.” We never received a direct response, nor did we reach the stage of asking what kind of handover took place between Bakeru Co., Ltd. (formerly Tokyo Pistol Co., Ltd.)— the former management company of SOAK where the work was installed and MOTHER Entertainment, or what their views were on the fact that, after our inquiry, photos of the altered work were posted on the home page of the SOAK website, the facility guide PDF, social media, and other places.

 The artist, Yoshida, has undergone substantial mental and physical exhaustion as a result of this incident. Additionally, he has been unable to attend all scheduled exhibitions due to the restoration work. In addition to having to limit his activities as an artist, the legal costs for resolving this case have been accumulating for over a year. A portion of this financial burden will now be compensated by Mitsui Fudosan.

Frankly, we remain unconvinced by some of the explanations provided by the three companies involved in this case. However, given that Mitsui Fudosan will issue an apology and will partially compensate for the loss or damage we had incurred due to their actions, and most importantly, as the restoration of Shibuya Neko Hariko has been completed, we have decided that it would not be prudent to continue pursuing this matter or allocate additional time. Accordingly, we confirm that we are currently in the process of finalizing an agreement with Mitsui Fudosan to conclude this matter.

Over the past year, we have felt the weight of responsibility to resolve this case in the best possible manner, and have spent many days feeling crushed under the pressure. We hope that this case will be of some help in raising awareness of how individuals, companies, and other organizations in Japan should relate to art in the future, contributing to a heightened understanding of intellectual property rights. Only then will we find solace in this painful experience and feel that our struggle had not been in vain.

 Akira Yoshida’s creation, Shibuya Neko Hariko, has evolved through the events of this incident, becoming a piece that owes its existence to all of you. We would be delighted if this work becomes a harbinger of good fortune and prosperity in the future, allowing us the opportunity to reciprocate the support from each and every one of you.

As a gesture of gratitude for the support received and to announce the completion of restorations, we have decided to hold an unveiling exhibition for the restored Shibuya Neko Hariko in Shibuya, the birthplace of the work, from January 3, 2024. The venue, Shibuya Hikarie 8/ CUBE, is directly connected to Shibuya Station.
We sincerely look forward to seeing you at the Shibuya Neko Hariko and its friends exhibition in the New Year.

Akira Yoshida, Artist
Yukari Mitsuma, Representitive/Director, YUKARI ART


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