Deciding When The Public Has A Right To Know More


Honor and integrity are two of the principles Mikiyo Yonemura says make up the foundation of his corporate philosophy. But these attributes require something else to make them a valuable part of a corporation and a man's character honesty.

In early May, Yonemura stunned school officials when he announced that he planned to buy a local restaurant and bring 130 families with 250 children to Payson within the year.

The school district doesn't have the classrooms or the teachers to accommodate that many new students, so if Yonemura's claims were true, school officials were in a tight spot.

Suddenly, what had started as a simple business story had turned into a potential community crisis.

But Yonemura had an answer for the trouble he was planning to heap on the school district he'd simply plunk down $6.7 million over the next few years to build more classrooms and hire more teachers.

The trouble was, none of his numbers from the number of employees he said he planned to hire, to the huge profits he claimed he could make at Mario's, to the amount of cash he promised to throw around added up. And very little money ever materialized.

We at the Roundup decided to check Yonemura's background to find out if he was capable of delivering on the grandiose promises he was making to the school district, local business people, the Payson Town Council and the community in general. If he was great; if he wasn't we thought the people of the community should know so they could make informed decisions.

The information we found in court documents from around the country while we were trying to verify his resume, which, it turns out, was largely false, was alarming. We found a history of criminal activity, bankruptcy and information that painted a picture of a man who has met with little success throughout his adult life.

The bylines on most of our reports on Yonemura and his plans for Payson read "Roundup staff reporters" because everyone on our small news team went to work looking for answers answers Yonemura refused to provide.

The answers we did find lead to more difficult questions:

Why would someone fabricate so much information and think it would not be scrutinized or verified?

Why would this man so desperately need an endorsement from the school district?

Why would a leasing company and investors trust a man with such a dishonorable business background and a criminal record?

Why did he have armed security men accompanying him at all times?

The answers to those questions remain unclear. But one question has been answered should the community trust Yonemura and accept his grand promises at face value? No.

We stand behind the idea that people have a right to their privacy. We also recognize that everyone makes mistakes and people should not be held captive by the past or the judgments of others, especially when charting a new course in life. But when someone is rolling a Trojan Horse through the community gates, the media has the responsibility to look inside and reveal its true nature.

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