A multi-continental love story hits resistance

Although they were dating for less than a year, Ms Marina Haba uprooted her life and followed Mr Joe Wallace's basketball career.

TOKYO - Ms Marina Haba, the eldest of six children to Japanese pachinko slot machine mogul Han Chang-woo, first fell in love with Mr Joe Wallace, a strapping basketball player, when she was a college student in 1991.

He was then playing professional basketball in Japan for Isuzu Motors Gigacats.

Although they were dating for less than a year, Ms Haba uprooted her life and followed Mr Wallace's basketball career by moving to Spain, Argentina and Paris but they parted ways after his professional retirement.

Mr Wallace, born in California, returned to the United States while Ms Haba returned to Japan. They lost contact for 15 years, during which time they got married, had children, and divorced from their partners.

They reconnected via Facebook in 2011 and, after a meeting in Vancouver, rekindled their romance and married in 2014.

Ms Haba is now alleging that her father is racist, with his disapproval of her relationship with an African-American man the reason why he cut her loose.

Mr Han is suing her for the immediate return of a loan of 480 million yen (S$6.2 million) with interest that he granted her in September last year. He has also taken legal steps to seize all her assets and block her bank accounts.

But Ms Haba claims that her father and his company Maruhan had unjustly withheld her rightful stock options and dividend payments, and intends to counter-sue in the Kyoto court.

But as a first step, she has launched court proceedings in the United States territory of Guam - where Maruhan has a subsidiary - to facilitate the document discovery process to build her case in Japan.

"As leverage to force his daughter to divorce (her husband), Mr Han has moved to reclaim her shares in the family business ... that he long ago gave to his daughter without condition," say her lawyers.

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