Around that time, Kurosawa and Toho were already under dispute on another issue. As I mentioned above, under the settlement agreement, a promise was contained with respect to the secondary use of 21 works directed by Akira Kurosawa and produced by Toho. One of the forms of the secondary use was the broadcasting on TV. Toho had agreed to pay Akira Kurosawa the minimum amounts under the agreements entered into by the Scenario Writers Association and the Directors Association with the film producing federations respectively whenever they grant broadcasting to TV stations. Toho granted in July 1991, TV broadcasting right of the 21 works directed by Akira Kurosawa to Nihon Eisei Housou Kabushiki Kaisha (JSB) at the compensation of approximately 10 billion yen. According to the Settlement Agreement, in this case Toho was supposed to pay 4% of the sales price to the TV company to each of the scenario writer Akira Kurosawa and the director Akira Kurosawa. Toho asserted, however, that broadcasting by JSB is satellite broadcasting and the terms of the settlement agreement were for terrestrial broadcasting and not applicable, so they would pay for the time being 120,000 yen for the monochrome works and 200,000 yen for the color works. On the contrary, Kurosawa side asserted that the 4% amount provided for under the settlement agreement should be paid because TV broadcasting includes satellite broadcasting. Neither party made a concession and the disputes became deadlocked. Kurosawa side thought that discussions would get nowhere since JSB broadcasting had already started, and raised a lawsuit claiming for royalty payments, etc. of copyright at the Tokyo District Court on March 18, 1992. Many of the mass media reactions to this lawsuit were favorable to Kurosawa side. Protection of rights of directors, script writers, etc. relating to the secondary use of the motion pictures at that time were attracting the public attention. Some newspapers did make special features on it.
In the Japanese society, you need to be courageous to raise a lawsuit. The above-mentioned lawsuit against Toho was raised by obtaining the conclusion that there was no other way to solve the problem besides suing the other party, after making various kinds of investigations. But since this was the second time Kurosawas did not put a taboo on lawsuits and they began to think if they could oppose MGM by lawsuit. In case of MGM, a lawsuit had already been raised against Kurosawa side so they normally had to defend it in the site of the United States. If this was a case raised in Japan, you cannot raise a counter lawsuit with respect to the same issue for which a lawsuit has already been raised. But for an international dispute, there is no such rule. You can raise a lawsuit in Japan in order to oppose a lawsuit raised in the United States. As more Japanese companies are being sued in the United States, there are more counter lawsuits raised in the Japanese courts. If a Japanese company looses by a lawsuit in the United States, the U.S. judgement may be executed in Japan by taking duly appropriate procedures. In such case, if a Japanese company raises a lawsuit in Japan opposing the lawsuit raised in the United States and wins it and the judgement therefor is finalized, the winning judgement in the United Sates cannot be executed in Japan even if they lose the suit in the Untied States. Things do not always go straight like that, but raising a lawsuit in Japan do put pressures on the U.S. parties, and may sometimes affect the U.S. lawsuit if the Japanese side shows its attitude to fight with its determination.
As mentioned above, the counter lawsuit against MGM will be raised before the Japanese court by denying the fact that MGM is asserting in the U.S. court. What MGM demanded in the U.S. court trial were (i) confirmation of the fact that the remaking right of the motion picture "The Seven Samurai" is owned by MGM and (ii) claim for damages based on its assertion that Kurosawa side had conducted an illegal act against MGM. In order to oppose such demands, Kurosawa side had to ask for confirmation that (i) MGM doe not have such a remake right and (ii) Kurosawa side has no obligation to pay the damages to MGM. The problem is even if Kurosawa side won such counter lawsuit, it does not solve all the problems. That is, if the conclusion is that MGM does not own the remake right of "The Seven Samurai", it is deemed that MGM had not received an effective right from Alciona, then MGM will be entitled to claim for damages against Toho. Toho does not have any means to defend so they would loose the lawsuit, in which case Toho would be entitled to charge the whole amount to Kurosawa side under the settlement agreement. In order to stop such situation, we should avoid Toho's charging the amount they should pay to MGM to Kurosawa in case Toho loses the lawsuit.
So I began looking for a method to invalidate the settlement agreement with Toho relating to "The Seven Samurai". Since I did not intend to make an invalid agreement from the beginning,it is not easy to invalidate it just because the situation had changed. An agreement is made to bind the other party and it is difficult as a magical escaping from rope to sneak away from the binding. Nevertheless, as the magic has its device, I noticed that I could make a device under the situation.