[Update 9/16/13: The original post is back up. Spin me around!]
[Update 8/23/13: Mark Devlin has recently taken down his original post.]
Picking up on the Japan-side expat story behind the sale of Metropolis magazine, Mark Devlin let me know that the key missing piece to the sale was that a lien was never recorded for property that Mr. Lloyd had pledged to buy the magazine.
According to Mark, the installment payment was to be secured by a lien in property that Mr. Lloyd owed in downtown Tokyo. However, Mr. Lloyd never recorded the lien. (Someone might be able to assist as to whether it is only the owner who can record a lien in Japan. In America, the non-owner can file a notice of lien in most states.)
So it sounds like there is more to the controversy than a he-said, he-said. According to Mark, one side—his—sought a security interest, and the other side pledged it, only not to record that security or make it known to any subsequent creditor, like, for instance, Shinsei Bank.
In the foreigner community, it so sadly remains that deals are breached routinely if all you have to rely on is Japanese remedies. Law is one thing, remedies are another.
(Update: discussion w/ others on Facebook. We had concluded a few weeks ago that the issue must involve security interest.)