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ufotable President Hikaru Kondo Steps Down as Machi Asobi Committee Head

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Anime studio allegedly owes 400 million yen in taxes

Tokushima Prefecture governor Kamon Iizumi revealed on Monday that ufotable company founder, representative director, and president Hikaru Kondo has resigned from his role of chairman of the executive committee for the Machi Asobi anime event.

According to the prefecture, Kondo told ufotable in mid-April that he wanted to step down as head of the executive committee, but he did not provide a specific reason. Due to Kondo's wishes, the prefecture requested on April 22 that vice president Junko Tominaga, representative of the NPO Awa Bunka Salon, become acting chairman. After explaining the circumstances to the other committee members, the most recent Machi Asobi event was held on May 4 to 6 as planned.

Anime studio ufotable organizes the Machi Asobi event in Tokushima. The events have had more than 1 million attendees since they began in 2009.

Bungeishunju's Weekly Bunshun Digital magazine reported in April that ufotable allegedly owes 400 million yen (about US$3.57 million) in taxes, citing a source from the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau. The report noted that ufotable is suspected of supposedly misappropriating funds raised from a charity auction for the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, a violation of the Penal Code that carries a potential prison sentence of no more than 10 years.

Weekly Bunshun Digital also cited a source from inside ufotable that Kondo stayed at home and consulted with his lawyer every day for a few days after the original report of the investigation, but had supposedly returned to work at the company's Suginami studio as of early April.

Weekly Bunshun Digital reported in March that the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau conducted a search of ufotable's offices on March 12 as part of an investigation of the company allegedly committing tax evasion. The Bureau conducted searches in the company's cafés in Kōenji and Tokushima, as well as the animation studio in Shimoigusa, in Tokyo's Suginami ward. According to the report, Kondo was allegedly directly receiving some of the revenue accrued from the studio's merchandise sales.

No charges have been filed against Kondo or ufotable.

Kondo founded ufotable in 2000, and the studio is perhaps best known for its various anime adaptations of Type-Moon's Fate franchise, including Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works. The studio is currently producing the Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel anime film trilogy, the second film of which debuted on January 12 in Japan. The studio has also made anime adaptations of Type-Moon's The Garden of Sinners, and the Katsugeki: Touken Ranbu television anime. ufotable premiered the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba television anime on April 6.

In addition, the company sells merchandise and goods for the various anime it has produced, and runs a number of cafés through which it sells some of its merchandise.

Source: Tokushima Shimbun via Yaraon!

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