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Gima, Kokuba fight over Naha Chamber positions

Date Posted: 2008-02-14

Okinawa’s two largest companies are flexing their respective muscles as they try to gain the upper hand in influencing the Naha City Chamber of Commerce.

The ongoing battle between the Gima Group and Kokuba Group has crossed numerous business, civic and organizational lines through the past dozen years, with each seeking supremacy as the Prefecture’s number one company. Competitors in the construction and other industries, Gima and Kokuba never want to yield any point on any subject to the other.

Gima Group is now taking the Naha Chamber of Commerce to court, seeking to invalidate a Chamber resolution regarding membership requirements. Gima Group wants 45 people admitted, but the Chamber is restructuring its framework this year, a move that involves electing a new chairman and vice chairman and placing membership issues before a business meeting to decide electors.

“If they don’t listen to our opinion,” Gima Group says, “we are going to stop the election proceedings.” Gima acknowledges both it and Kokuba Group want to bring their own candidate to be Chamber chairman, and to promote that candidacy. The Chamber says it is a matter of policy.

“About 2,561 of the members are all right,” a Chamber official says. “They meet the requirements of membership. Another 1,000 members,” he continues, “have not satisfied membership conditions so we can’t admit them.” The Naha Chamber of Commerce says the 1,000 individuals sought Chamber membership in order for Gima Group to gain control of votes in any election. We can’t accept that.” The official says influencing control of the Chamber is not a bonafide reason for being admitted.

The Naha Chamber is insisting it does not want to accept people or companies for membership if they don’t have offices in Naha City. “Members should have offices in Naha City,” an official says. “That’s a condition to be a member.” Gima Group is countering “No, that’s not fair,” and promises “this fight is not yet finished.”

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