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Court in Japan orders Google to delete past reports of man's arrest

56 Comments

The Saitama District Court has ordered Google to remove news reports from more than three years ago concerning a man who was arrested on charges of molesting a girl under 18.

Last month, the man filed a suit claiming that Google search results pertaining to his arrest older than three years was a violation of his personal rights, Sankei Shimbun reported.

In 2012, the man was arrested for paying a girl under the age of 18 for sexual favors. He was charged with violating child prostitution laws and fined 500,000 yen. However, his name and news reports regarding the arrest still come up in Google searches.

Claiming that this was an infringement upon his personal rights, the man petitioned to have the information deleted from the search engine. His lawyer told the court his client had been rehabilitated and that it was difficult to get on with his life as long as his arrest record remains online.

In handing down the ruling, the presiding judge said such relatively minor crimes do not hold any particular significance to the public and therefore continuing to display such information three years after the incident does not have much merit for society at large.

Google said it will appeal the decision, saying the ruling violates freedom of expression and information.

© Japan Today

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56 Comments
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so having sexual encounters with young girls is a minor thing? really?

18 ( +20 / -3 )

uh, yes, it was definitely a "minor" thing.

9 ( +12 / -4 )

I don't think they quite understand how the internet works. Or perhaps they just want to try and muscle over the 'foreign' Google.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Wifey: Hey hunny, there's a new guy moved in next door. He was really nice to the kids just now.

Hubby: Yeah, what's his name...

Damn RIGHT I wanna know.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Was it not cheaper to just change his name (or even just the kanji in his name) than to hire lawyer and sue Google? I support the 'right to be forgotten' but cases like this make a mockery of it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

lol what a joke theres probably 1000 people now as we speak putting this exact same information all over servers in China / Russia in both english and Japanese and will still be easily found through a search engine other than google? The thing with the internet the harder you try to stop the flow of information the quicker it will spread like a virus for good or bad.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Was it not cheaper to just change his name (or even just the kanji in his name)

Can't change your name in Japan with the exception of when marrying.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In handing down the ruling, the presiding judge said such relatively minor crimes do not hold any particular significance to the public and therefore continuing to display such information three years after the incident does not have much merit for society at large.

Are you serious? Can that judge please be fired? This is not a minor crime and google does not equal the internet.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

They may be able to deal with it on google.japan, but as far as the real world google .com..very unlikely, and probably out of the jurisdiction of the Japan court shystem. Google is very big and has an army of lawyers, lobbyist in the the US and globally.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Of course it's no big thing. In a culture where Lolita has positive connotations and the sexual exploitation of young girls rakes in billions of yen, why would it be otherwise?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@Strangerland

You can certainly change your name in Japan, as long as you can provide a reason for doing so.

My children both changed their names when they were at primary school because they were tired of being mistaken for foreigners.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

He was charged with violating child prostitution laws and fined 500,000 yen ....I would say he was treated rather leniently!

9 ( +10 / -1 )

This is utterly stupid. Google has information on his crime because it's taken from Japanese sites. So, will the judge also make Japanese news sites, blogs and discussion boards delete all information written about this guy and his "minor" crime?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Lucabrasi is right. You also need a family court to rubber stamp the name change. Ironically, one of the recognised reasons for requesting a change is if you share the same name as a known criminal. But I'm not sure what they would say if you are that criminal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My children both changed their names when they were at primary school because they were tired of being mistaken for foreigners.

I stand corrected. I just did some googling, and found this: http://www.s-kougen.com/meikai82.htm

Rough translation:

Under what conditions can one get permission to change their name on the family registrar?

-When you've been using a nickname for many years

-When your name is hard to say or hard to read

-When you're a woman and your name is masculine, and vice-versa

-When you've become a priest or a monk

-Aligning your family name upon marriage

-When you take on the name of your predecessor in traditional arts, or business matters

-When your name gives you personal anguish

(Note - reasons above are not guarantees of receiving permission to change ones name)

Luca - I'm assuming that your kids were allowed to change their name under the last point.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

(( the presiding judge said such relatively minor crimes do not hold any particular significance to the public ))

Is molesting a child girl is a minor crime with no significance to the public ... ?????

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Strangerland

As far as I remember (we're talking ten years ago), there was an actual "When you are repeatedly mistaken for a foreigner" option.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Too damn right it should not be removed! In other countries he would go on the little of child sex offenders for life.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What this fella has failed to realise is that if you do the relevant search on another engine like Bing than his history pops up there also.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Well, the fact of the matter is, targeting Google search results WILL have a major impact, given that it's by far the most widely used search engine. As such, maybe it was a targeted approach, given the impossibility of complete deletion. Or, as others have suggested above, they are clueless on how the internet works.

I agree that it would have been much easier to simply change one kanji character ever so slightly, however.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

it would have been much easier to simply change one kanji character ever so slightly, however.

Would that actually work? If I type "Bil Geats" into Google, I still get "Bill Gates"....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"In handing down the ruling, the presiding judge said such relatively minor crimes do not hold any particular significance to the public and therefore continuing to display such information three years after the incident does not have much merit for society at large."

If they have no significance and are not that important, why is the guy insisting that it's always interfering with his life? If they are THAT significant and that many people are looking him up, then there are good reasons, and all the better reason for the information to be there. Sorry, but if he didn't want to be infamous on the internet, he should not have solicited sex with minors.

And not ONLY should Google fight this obvious and blatant attempt to silence free speech, they should put all articles pertaining to this and the upcoming appeal at the beginning of their list of trending articles -- THEN the guy might actually learn that the best way to not let people know about his past is to NOT try and challenge the freedom of speech of the world's biggest search engine! Even if the appeal is lost, how can they possibly demand it be taken off of any Google sites except Google.jp?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The article isn't clear about what Google has to remove from its search results. There are similar cases in Europe over "right to be forgotten" laws. In Europe, I think only searches on the person's name have to remove results linking to certain web pages that associate the person with a particular event. But a search on details of the event that don't include the person's name in the search query can include the same links in the results. (Please correct me if I'm wrong on this.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How about Bing, yahoo, dogpile, and a zillion other search engines?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Have you ever searched your own name on Google? You might be surprised with what you find.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I must wonder if all those firing on the man and judge realize they are making the case for removal for them.

First, the crime. There is some kind of translation problem here because first they say he has molested a girl (which implies a chikan type thing), then it is breaking child prostitution laws (probably that enjou kosai thing). Since the latter paragraph is more specific, I'll go with that.

In this case, this is actually a very minor crime. It was a voluntary trade, and the only fly in the ointment is that the girl was under an arbitrarily set legal line by one or two years. She's almost certainly of marriable age (14). Japan's laws seem to agree and so he was only fined, not imprisoned.

Despite the setting of this as a relatively minor crime, our paternal love for children tends to cause us to have knee jerk reactions to these problems. It is likely we are damaging the "victims" more by telling them how badly they've been attacked, but anyway, we get so knee-jerky that other principles get swept under the carpet for "protecting the children".

So there is a clear disparity between the relative minorness of his crime and the social detriment he suffers by having that run amok over the Net. The only principle that can counter that is freedom of expression, but these days people in Europe, not Japan, have decided that this is subordinate to something called the right to be forgotten. Under this new principle, the judge's decision is correct and fair, and if one needs evidence to prove it, he needs only link this thread, which has a bunch of people wishing eternal damnation on him.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Bing, yahoo, and dogpile... you're great, which comedy club are you working in? I need a night out.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Having been convicted and then having been punished, it seems vindictive that an individual should not be allowed to move on with his or her life. Obviously, there are exceptions where that individual may still be a danger to the public, but in that case don't allow him back out on the streets.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is why Japan needs to move into the modern world, he would be labeled a sex offender for life in America and have to register that wherever he lived.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So, is it correct to say he is a convicted pedophile?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So, is it correct to say he is a convicted pedophile?

It depends on the age of the girl, but from the sounds of it, she was an older teen. If that was the case, then technically he'd be a convicted ephebophile (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephebophilia), or if she was an earlier adolescent, but post pubescent, he'd be a convicted hebephile (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebephilia).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What a dumb decision.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This judge seems to have 'included' opinion that did not belong in the core issue.

Google to all degrees violate personal privacy. Arguments above of 'modern world', uh, do some research.

Start with recent Europe wins which now DO stop google practices.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/technology/google-should-erase-web-links-to-some-personal-data-europes-highest-court-says.html?_r=1

I back this ruling full hearted - i do not back japanese judge over reach and based opinion outside of the core scope.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki do you feel this man has committed a crime at all?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This proves how stupid the legal system in Japan is. It's less costly and less work for the Japanese judicial system to judge against Google then rule against this man's claim. All the Japanese legal system does is encourage pedophiles, murders and other criminals by shielding past behavior from the public. Europe and Japan should have to weigh at some point which is more important, personal privacy or public safety?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Gogogo: "This is why Japan needs to move into the modern world, he would be labeled a sex offender for life in America and have to register that wherever he lived."

Then we need to be consistent. Anyone who has served their time needs to be put on the theft offender registry, the illegal drug user registry, etc for the rest of their lives. Don't single out just one crime. If perpetrator is not rehabilitated, don't release him.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Google is right to appeal this case, the man has been convicted of violating child prostitution laws, if there is any doubt into the serious nature of this offense and whether it is in the public interest that the offender and the offense should remain and matter of public record one needs to look no further than Children’s Rights: Japan.

The section: A. The Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and for Protecting Children....

<http://www.loc.gov/law/help/child-rights/japan.php#_ftnref2 >

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

jumin,

that was not what the court was at task to decide.

If there are to be 'sex offender laws/registries' that would need to come from a separate, and well needed court / legislative enactments.

The judge here was to rule if people had a fundamental right to privacy, some personal control over expansive evasive hanging out of laundry in the online world.

That, in its roughness was what needed to be looked at.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People living in the EU have the right to be forgotten and can get google and others to remove articles from their sites. No different to this Japanese court ruling.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Interestingly the words "convicted" and "conviction" appear nowhere in the article. Am I to take it that the man was merely arrested on suspicion of a crime, but was never convicted of one in a court of law?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Interestingly the words "convicted" and "conviction" appear nowhere in the article. Am I to take it that the man was merely arrested on suspicion of a crime, but was never convicted of one in a court of law?

He paid a fine, and as fines are imposed, I think it's probably safe to say he was convicted. It's possible that there was some other outcome however. Maybe in Japan you can be fined without having an official conviction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He paid a fine, and as fines are imposed, I think it's probably safe to say he was convicted.

Good catch. Still, a bizarre omission - as if it was the arrest, not the conviction, that was the problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I take it there is no" sex offender list" in this country? So any politician can be a convicted sex-offender and the records would be private? I don't get it. It's just on google that it "doesn't exist"? Or everywhere? So the petition he filed is secret? The court who heard this keeps his name secret? Can this be appealed to a higher court? This is a bit puzzling. The judge's name is not published. Why not say who this judge is in the article? Can we get a history of this judge's past decisions? What are the legal checks here? I am guessing this judge is a dude.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

OK this perp is clearly.............GUILTY

The internet is a nasty animal which for example is why I DONT DO face book, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, no bitching afterwards!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It depends how old the 'under 18' girl was. If she was 17 and 364 days old, it's not such a big deal. If she was 11 or 12 or 13 or 14 or 15 or 16 then his record should remain on the Internet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gw I agree. The internet never forgets. I have 17yo records on internet in a forum. I want it removed but google said no!.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps they should start looking at the goings on of this judge, no?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So, a guy was charged with violation of CHILD prostituion laws and he sueing Google because HIS personal rights are being violated? What did it miss here?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

it would have been much easier to simply change one kanji character ever so slightly, however. Would that actually work? If I type "Bil Geats" into Google, I still get "Bill Gates"....

It would work. Bill Gates is famous and heavily searched for, so Google assumes people are looking for him. Some unknown guy who got caught with an underage hooker is not going to get the same treatment.

People are going to have to get used to this stuff. From this point on, every slip up will stay on record. As a society, we will have to be a little more lenient and understanding of past transgressions. If everybody who has ever had sex with 17 year old gets thrown in prison, we would have to replace half our politicians and almost all of our entertainers and more famous musicians.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unless American's have changed, my girlfriend was under 18 when we made love in high school. Everyone is then a labeled a child molester? Good point above "molester" is someone forces usually a woman into sex. Bill Wyman (Stones) married a 13 year old. I'm not condoning under age sex, just being more realistic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki do you feel this man has committed a crime at all?

You clearly want me to bite a bullet. Let me just say that if I was writing the law, this wouldn't be criminalized at all.

First, let me clearly declare that prostitution, in itself, is business or a job. It is selling something for money, but then what job isn't. It should not be criminalized.

Next, is it a problem that she's under 18. Not so much, actually. The main moral issue is the fear minors can be exploited or coerced by adults here, but there is no evidence that's the case here. If it is by mutual consent and the man paid the going market rate for the service, there is no exploitation or coercion, any more than the standard part time job, which is considered good life experience for high-schoolers. In an objective sense, the whole thing is much less exploitative than some "respectable" job where you work long hours for minimal wage. Just a few hours of "labor" and get a good wad of cash.

Despite my preferences, society has spoken, so it is now criminal, but very minor, punishable by fine rather than imprisonment. Obviously, such minor crimes do not deserve de facto eternal damnation.

As for those people talking about "sex offenders" lists, it is amazing how easily we sell our principles. Anyway, personally, I'm of the opinion that humanitarianism says that once the punishment is done, as far as possible, it should be done. Sexual offenders lists are antithetical to such principles, and in de facto promoting gross discrimination are unethical. I don't care if he raped a baby in the most traditional sense of the term (rape's practical definition has expanded considerably through the decades). If you think it is worth that much, make the penalty for that life, I won't object. But if you let him out, you let him out. You don't let him out and de facto destroy his life with a sex offenders list.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki, I appreciate your honesty and I would like to leave you to contempt the implications.

So let's reflect, the offender was charged with violating child prostitution laws and fined 500,000 yen, a person who commits child prostitution is punishable with imprisonment for up to five years or a fine not in excess of one million yen. that is defined as a a child of 14 years or under, as a retrospective judgement the offender was passed down a half portion of a maximum fine.

The original judgement irrespective of viewpoint categorically defines this offence as a person who buys or sells a child for the purpose of soliciting that child to be a party to sexual intercourse or other sexual acts.

Google, though hardly a bastion of privacy in any sense of the meaning has been left holding the cudgel of freedom of expression and information.

Let with crystal clarity define behaviours and associate actions in the context of this man possibly reoffending. His lawyer told the court his client had been rehabilitated, a submission in effect that this is not a solitary occasion the defendant has desired or procured the sexual favours of a child.

The presiding Judge has allowed Google to appeal setting the higher court the decision to reverse the judgement of the lower court. Kazuaki, old practices die hard, Judges have been over lenient to these men and women too, that activity indulge in unacceptable sexual gratification that is not tolerable in society that values the sanctity of innocence to our children. I have not descended into sanctimonious self righteous indignation, your honestly deserves a respectful retort.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I really don't see why he is going after Google. Does this guy and the judge even understand how Google works? Why isn't he going after whatever news sites that have his information listed to take it down, then it won't show up in Google or anywhere else. Removing it from Google's search does not eliminate the data from the rest of the internet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Removing it from Google's search does not eliminate the data from the rest of the internet.

No, but it makes it much less likely to be found.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@CoconutE3

This proves how stupid the legal system in Japan is.

Not only is it stupid, but also severely skewed against anything foreign. The duality of the judicial process in Japan has always been severely skewed against foreigners and anything foreign. Apparently, they are always under pressure to prove something to foreigners. One would be forgiven for thinking Commodore Perry's " Black ships" are docking unceasingly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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