Japan Today
national

Damages awarded to Japan's #MeToo symbol over defamatory tweet likes

40 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© KYODO

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

40 Comments
Login to comment

This is an INSANE precedent to make. Absolutely crazy!

5 ( +16 / -11 )

I wonder what a "socially-acceptable limit" for "acts of contempt" would be? we need a panel of experts to undertake research into this, a report to be submitted, in principle, by 2026.....

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

plus.... Ms Ito wanted 2.2 mil in damages for "mental distress" caused by the 'tweets', yet she only received 3.3 mil for rape? (or, as Mr. Yamaguchi would have it, "nonconsensual sexual intercourse")  and no other punishment for him????. farce all round, though not for Ms Ito....

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Another asinine ruling by the THC. Might as well just end freedom of speech right now. As for her feelings, nobody was forcing her to read the post!

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

nonconsensual sexual intercourse

Most civilised countries call that rape and it carries a strong sentence.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

I am glad the court took her side. Lawmakers has to have a code of conduct. It's their duty to take care of the people and prevent things like this to happen. And not spend their time liking posts that defame the victim.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

There are lots of breathtakingly insane judges out there these days. Sugita should appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court to have it overturned.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

It is surprising to see that one can be ordered to pay damages for agreeing with another person who questions a claim (before that claim is confirmed to be true).

— 2015

A: “He hurt me.” (Claim)

B: “No, I didn’t.” (Claim)

— 2018

C: “I don’t believe A.” (Questions claim)

D: [Like] post by C (Support of questioning of claim)

—2022

Supreme Court: B hurt A (Claim confirmed)

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

My thought? If only courts in the US had taken this stance over Alex Jones, and would do so over other incidents where people purposefully send out lies and misinformation, the world might be a more civil place. Sugita is a terrible person who says terrible hateful things, and I honestly hope this makes her think twice before opening her poisonous mouth ever again.

4 ( +14 / -10 )

as much as I've supported Ito throughout her ordeal, this is pure insanity from the courts.

"liking" something on Twitter can now land you in hot water?

Theres not a single person on earth protected from this insanity.

Now all that has to be proven is someone's feelings have been hurt.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

This is disturbing. I often click "like" just to mark a tweet so I can go back to it later. Pressing a button means nothing.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Are we safe on JT? I mean, we all click + or - right?

4 ( +9 / -5 )

@Michael Machida Totally agree

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Absolutely WRONG, this ruling will have an impact on how people choose to vote on social media and beyond.

Expression or opinion with Like or dislike is a matter of choice and it is NOT up for the courts to decide how the people can vote, if that is the case then why even bother having the vote in the first place???

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

If only courts in the US had taken this stance over Alex Jones, and would do so over other incidents where people purposefully send out lies and misinformation, the world might be a more civil place. 

This doesn’t make sense, the courts in the US have awarded damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars against Jones for defamation, far more than any Japanese court ever has against anyone.

Sugita is a terrible person who says terrible hateful things, and I honestly hope this makes her think twice before opening her poisonous mouth ever again.

And if she were being held accountable for things she had said I would be in favor of such a decision. But she isn’t, she has been held liable for simply pushing the like button on the words of someone else. I tend to agree with others who find this decision concerning. We might all hate Sugita, but if we can now be sued for liking Tweets, who is to say that the next lawsuit won’t be launched by an oil company against someone for liking a tweet criticizing them for climate change? Or someone else much more sympathetic than Sugita.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

girl_in_tokyo

Sugita is a terrible person …

Perhaps we should all think carefully before liking the attack in this post.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

""The Tokyo District Court had ruled in March that liking a defamatory post could not be considered illegal as the act does not necessarily constitute approval since it could also be for bookmarking and reminder purposes.""

Amen.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Interesting. So, liking a tweet that says "she is a honey trap" is tantamount to saying it yourself? Not sure about that myself, but then again, it is kind of an indirect way of saying the same thing. I wonder if a re-tweet would have resulted in a stiffer penalty.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It should be noted that Sugita's "likes" were not ruled against without regard to her position as a legislator.

The court found that the "acts of contempt" by Sugita, as a House of Representatives member of the Liberal Democratic Party with around 110,000 followers at the time, "exceeded the socially-acceptable limit, and the mental distress caused by it cannot be taken lightly."

Agree or disagree - it is still a narrower judgement than if she had been a layperson.

The counterargument - "let the electing public decide" - perhaps(?) doesn't fit Japan, where even with a sub 30% approval rating the same party is still almost guaranteed to be elected.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What a farcical justice system…..this guy should have got a punishment that would hurt. This is probably like a dinner for him….disgusting.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A surprising ruling...but Sugita is contemptible, offensive, and revolting - a disgrace to Japan.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Good ruling, but they should add a zero to the end of the fine amount.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sugita is the Marjorie Taylor Green of Japan.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The nail that sticks up is getting reinforced.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

... recognizing that he had nonconsensual sexual intercourse with her in 2015.

I think the word they're looking for is rape. He raped her. You know a country doesn't take sex crimes seriously when they categorize being groped on public transport as a "public nuisance" and fails to call nonconsensual sex what is it: rape.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

rainydayToday 08:25 am JST

This doesn’t make sense, the courts in the US have awarded damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars against Jones for defamation, far more than any Japanese court ever has against anyone.

It took several years for the case to come to court, and by the time it had, the damage to the families was already done. If there had been laws in place that prohibit such obvious lies in the first place, with a clear path for the families to sue for damage, it's quite possible the entire episode could have been avoided. IMO, there needs to be stronger laws to protect people from online harassment such as this.

And if she were being held accountable for things she had said I would be in favor of such a decision. But she isn’t, she has been held liable for simply pushing the like button on the words of someone else.

The courts obviously don't see it that way. The money she must pay is a way to hold her accountable, and IMO, people who are in powerful positions in the media, or the government, need to know that any support they give to harassers will not go unchallenged. They have much more power than ordinary citizens, and even merely re-tweeting or liking tweets heavily influences public rhetoric. See Trump et al for examples of how that has played out in the past.

We might all hate Sugita, but if we can now be sued for liking Tweets, who is to say that the next lawsuit won’t be launched by an oil company against someone for liking a tweet criticizing them for climate change? Or someone else much more sympathetic than Sugita.

This is an argument I have never supported nor understood. It's not at all black and white, or at all difficult, to tell the difference between a powerful individual such as a government agent or media figure promoting hate against an ordinary citizen or vulnerable minority group, and an ordinary citizen coherently and cogently critisizing a corporation.

The difference between "That woman is lying about having been raped" vs. "We have evidence oil companies are not honest about pollutants" is pretty clear.

Some people say it's all opinions and all subjective, but I call BS on that - it is actually possible to quantify the damage done by nasty, bigoted, racist, dishonest attacks on innocent people by entitites more powerful than they are, and pretending otherwise is disingenuous.

And it seems pretty obvious that "we can now be sued for liking Tweets" is downplaying the issue in a very hyperbolic way. It reminds me of the people who say things like "I'm being vilified just for giving an opinion" when their opinion is that all Black people are criminals, or that transpeople are all perverts.

To me, those people are really saying, "I want to be able to continue saying horrible racist transphobic bigoted things and lying without accountability while using my platform to harm the people I hate."

Personally? I'm just sick of the bigotry and the blatant lies being spouted online and in the right wing media, and would be more than happy to see certain individuals pay hefty fines for expressing their "opinions".

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It took several years for the case to come to court, and by the time it had, the damage to the families was already done

THIS case took years to get to court too - the liking of the Tweets happened more than 4 years ago. Japan's litigation process is no faster than America's is.

 If there had been laws in place that prohibit such obvious lies in the first place, with a clear path for the families to sue for damage, it's quite possible the entire episode could have been avoided. 

But there is such a law in the US with a very clear path for victims to sue for damages - which is why Jones got sued in the first place.

This is an argument I have never supported nor understood. 

I'm making this argument because I understand the legal background in Japan. This isn't the first case like this to be decided in the courts on the question of whether liking a Tweet alone can form the grounds for a defamation lawsuit and most of the time the plaintiff is not a sympathetic person like Ito is.

Right wing politicians have used this EXACT same thing to sue journalists who have been critical of them. The former governor of Osaka won that type of a lawsuit in a 2020 Osaka High Court ruling against a journalist who had simply re-tweeted someone else's crticisms of the governor.

Read up about SLAPP lawsuits. Ito's is not one, but rules that make defamation lawsuits easier generally favor them. You might not appreciate it but the Donald Trump's of the world have the exact same views on defamation lawsuits that you are expressing here, only for far more nefarious reasons.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So you may think it, but you may not click a like button about it….

Hmmmmmmmmmm

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ridiculous. How to prove that a tweet was actually liked by the person with the account on purpose or not. Could have been an erroneous on the first like; account hacked on the second; dog stepped on the keyboard the third like; drunk on the fourth......

Serious precedents being set here. The CCP would be proud.

My advice is to go anonymous and use a VPN and TOR.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Should go back to the tweet and examine other likes, there could be a goldmine in there

0 ( +1 / -1 )

rainydayToday 01:47 pm JST

Right wing politicians have used this EXACT same thing to sue journalists who have been critical of them. The former governor of Osaka won that type of a lawsuit in a 2020 Osaka High Court ruling against a journalist who had simply re-tweeted someone else's crticisms of the governor.

That is very concerning. Thanks for that info about the legal background, as I wasn't aware of this. It makes sense to be concerned that this law could be used for, as you said, nefarious purposes. It makes me think - thanks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That is very concerning. Thanks for that info about the legal background, as I wasn't aware of this. It makes sense to be concerned that this law could be used for, as you said, nefarious purposes. It makes me think - thanks.

Thanks for the polite reply.

Just to add a bit to how much of a dangerous tool defamation law can play, when Ito sued Yamaguchi for the original sexual assault in 2019 he actually counter-sued her for defamation and (partially) won.

Even though the Court in that case found that Yamaguchi had in fact had non-consensual intercourse with her while she was passed out, it nonetheless ordered her to pay him 550,000 Yen for defaming his reputation because she had stated that he had used a date drug on her, a part of her accusation which she could not prove.

In other words, a Japanese Court actually ordered the victim of a sexual assault to pay her own attacker, even though it found that the attack really did happen, simply because there was a potentially erroneous detail in her accusation that might have hurt his reputation a bit. An overly expansive defamation law is, I think, what led the court to that conclusion.

So while I agree fully with your concerns about the need to protect people from online abuse, I'm extremely wary about expanding the use of defamation law as a way of doing that because it can be used in quite abusive ways.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’m basically computer/internet illiterate, so excuse my ignorant question: Aren’t likes/dislikes generally anonymous on most sites?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’m basically computer/internet illiterate, so excuse my ignorant question: Aren’t likes/dislikes generally anonymous on most sites?

Here on JT they are, but on Twitter your followers can see what you liked.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I’m basically computer/internet illiterate, so excuse my ignorant question: Aren’t likes/dislikes generally anonymous on most sites?

From the Twitter website:

When you like a Tweet, the original Tweet author is notified.

The Tweet you liked may also appear in your followers’ Home timeline with a note above it to show that you (or you and anyone else they follow) liked it.

So not only are they not anonymous, but liking could also lead to the tweet appearing on people's timeline.

This is disturbing. I often click "like" just to mark a tweet so I can go back to it later. Pressing a button means nothing.

Twitter actually gives you the option to just bookmark a tweet though. And according to Twitter's help center they are private and won't show up on the timeline of other people.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is one thing to seek justice, but another to attach a large $$$ amount to it. Laws where written to protect and guide a society, judges can reward victims for their sufferings depending, but for lawyers to put a ridiculous $ amount on the face of the case defeats the purpose and invites abuse.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Thanks, rainyday & Confusius.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites