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Tuesday, December 31, 2002



Japanese center
gets time

The Japanese Cultural Center
avoids foreclosure thanks to a
last-minute agreement with banks


Star-Bulletin staff

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii today avoided foreclosure in a last-minute agreement with banks that are owed $7.5 million.

Colbert Matsumoto, chairman of a volunteer committee that set out in November to save the center, said that more than $6 million has been raised in donations and pledges, and that the group of banks headed by City Bank agreed to restructure the loan.

In a news conference this morning, Matsumoto said the banks agreed to waive $1.5 million in interest and the committee will deposit the donated money and pay off $6 million in principle.

The center will make a partial payment today and pay the rest of the debt by Jan. 31, he said.

The banks are Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, Central Pacific Bank and City Bank.

The center also owes $1.5 million to other creditors, he said. Fund-raising activities will continue until that debt is also paid.

Two subcommittees -- a major donor committee and a grassroots committee -- were formed to generate financial support from the community. About 20,000 appeal letters were sent to businesses, residents and major corporations statewide.

Committee members have said it is vital to keep the cultural center open to educate successive generations about the Japanese heritage.

The center, at 2454 S. Beretania St., houses a collection of historic artifacts from Japanese immigrants, a tea ceremony room, a martial arts dojo, a banquet hall and commercial office space.



Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii



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