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Judge Admits Defamation but Dismisses Case

Judge's mallet

Judge admits defamation and that group behind it is hostile to victim, but still dismisses victim’s strong case.

Ramseyer Judicial Independence
Front cover page of “Measuring Judicial Independence: The Political Economy of Judging in Japan” by J. Mark Ramseyer and Eric. B. Rasmusen

As described by Dr. Michael Mickler, Professor J. Mark Ramseyer at Harvard Law School points out the strong bias in Japanese judicial practice and a lack of judiciary independence. He explains that government prosecutors win 99.9% of criminal cases and 98% of appeals. As a consequence, a presumption of guilt culture is prevalent. He described his observations in several articles later published as “Measuring Judicial Independence: The Political Economy of Judging in Japan.”

Masumi Fukuda, investigative journalist
Masumi Fukuda speaking in Tokyo 20th Jan. 2024. Photo: Screenshot

Another observer of the Japanese legal system is Masumi Fukuda, investigative journalist and award-winning author. She unveils startling disclosures concerning the deceitful legal actions initiated by anti-cult attorneys targeting the Family Federation in Japan. Her exposé published in Bitter Winter, the online magazine on religious freedom and human rights, illustrates the attorneys’ utilization of fabricated or exaggerated allegations, accusing the federation of practices such as brainwashing and extortion.

In the third of a series of four articles published by Bitter Winter from 23rd to 27th June 2023, Fukuda elucidates the prejudiced and inequitable treatment by the courts towards the Family Federation, highlighting instances where evidence presented by the federation has been disregarded or summarily dismissed by certain judges. These lawsuits have been marked by injustice and illegality, inflicting significant harm and anguish upon the federation‘s members.

The concluding installment of the Bitter Winter series sheds light on the true “anti-social” entity: the anti-cult lawyers striving to dismantle the Unification Church / Family Federation in Japan. In this article Fukuda reveals the orchestrated falsehoods and underhanded tactics employed by these lawyers, who have been disseminating misinformation and propaganda about the federation. We gain insight into the covert motives and affiliations of these lawyers, who have aligned themselves with anti-cult factions, ex-members, and media platforms to undermine and intimidate the Family Federation.

All this became apparent in a recent defamation court case at Tokyo District Court brought by the Family Federation against a leading activist lawyer known for his hostility towards the religious organization, but still being accepted as advisor to the government.

Family Federation of Japan victim of biased information
From the header of ffwpu.jp, the official homepage of the Family Federation of Japan.

Here is a press release (translated from Japanese) issued by the Family Federation in Japan on 15th March 2024 after losing the case even though the judge stated the wild claims the federation found defamatory were indeed defamatory. The Family Federation will according to the press release appeal the case.

“The verdict in the defamation lawsuit against Attorney Masaki Kito regarding his statement about prostitution made on Yomiuri Television.

Logo of Miyane-ya
Logo of Miyane-ya

When attorney Masaki Kito (紀藤正樹) appeared on Yomiuri Television’s information program ‘Information Live Miyane-ya’ (情報ライブ ミヤネ屋), he made statements about our organization such as ‘because there is no money, they made believers engage in prostitution.’

Masaki Kito using defamation
Advisor to the Japanese authorities: Masaki Kito (紀藤正樹), one of the hostile lawyers of National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales (全国霊感商法被害対策弁連) and Nationwide Unification Church Damage Countermeasures Legal Team (全国統一教会被害対策弁護団). Photo: Screenshot / Bitter Winter

In the lawsuit where our organization sought damages against the lawyer and the TV company for these statements, the Tokyo District Court delivered a ruling on 13th March 2024, completely dismissing our organization‘s claims. The statement made by attorney Kito, which became the point of contention, is as follows: ‘Since 2012, the Family Federation has significantly divided into three factions, and within Japan, believers are further subdivided into four or six factions. In the most severe cases, the responsible individuals have been involved in incidents where they forced believers into prostitution due to financial constraints.’

In response to this statement, media outlets and viewers swiftly interpreted it as implying that our organization was actually forcing believers into prostitution. Consequently, the internet was flooded with accusations against our organization. However, I want to emphasize that there is absolutely no factual basis for the claim that our organization has been engaged in such practices with its followers.

In his ruling, Presiding Judge Kanichiro Dozono (堂薗幹一郎) stated that the above remarks by Attorney Kito ‘should be considered as contributing to lowering the social reputation of the plaintiff (our organization) as a whole.’ He judged that it constituted defamation against the corporation.

In response to Kito’s statement, Presiding Judge Kanichiro Dozono acknowledged that the group making the claims that believers are forced into prostitution due to financial constraints, consists of approximately 15 individuals who are in opposition to our organization. However, the judge stated that the court cannot definitively confirm the truthfulness of the claims that our organization actually did force believers into prostitution due to financial constraints.

However, in determining the truthfulness (of Kito’s defamatory statement, whether there is substantial reason to believe that the content of the statement is true), the court acknowledged that there was substantial reason for Attorney Kito to believe that the specific organization mentioned above was indeed engaging in making believers participate in prostitution due to lack of funds. Consequently, the court rejected any negligence on the part of the attorney and ultimately dismissed our organization‘s claims in their entirety.

However, it is an undeniable fact that due to Attorney Kito’s statement, which was considered ‘difficult to interpret clearly’, criticism against our organization flooded the internet. Despite submitting evidence demonstrating how ordinary viewers perceived the program, the judges did not acknowledge any responsibility on Kito’s part.

In the context of a television program where scenes change rapidly, interspersed with commercials, it is unreasonable to expect ordinary viewers to ‘comprehensively consider the content of a special feature’. Therefore, there are even suspicions that the attorney deliberately made ‘unclear’ statements in an attempt to mislead viewers. Hence, the verdict that did not recognize any negligence on his part at all does not escape criticism.

Due to these circumstances, our organization intends to appeal this case and continue to fight.

Multiple media outlets published articles about the recent court ruling that completely omitted the fact that the court did recognize that the claim that believers are forced into prostitution due to financial constraints, is coming from a group composed of approximately 15 individuals who are hostile to our organization. These articles created an impression that our organization was actually involved in such matters. However, such reporting, which misleads viewers, significantly damages our organization’s reputation and undermines the trust of ordinary viewers who expect accurate information. Therefore, our organization intends to lodge strong protests against such reporting.”

Featured image above: A judge’s mallet. Photo: Wesley Tingey on Unsplash. Cropped

Introductory text: Knut Holdhus

More about defamation: Author: Japan’s “Apartheid-Style Social Exclusion”

More about defamation: Inhuman Government-Supported Mass Deprogramming 

Yet more about defamation: Collusion to Rob Minority of Its Rights

Still more about defamation: State and Media Creating “Today’s Non-Citizens”

Even more about defamation: Vicious Smear Tactic Used to Hide Criminal Acts

And still more about defamation: Sinister Plot of Hostile Lawyers Exposed

And yet more about defamation: “Black Propaganda” as Cover for Criminal Acts

And even more about defamation: Media and Activists Creating False Narrative

More about defamation: Study Shows Wildly Exaggerated Unfounded Claims

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