TOKYO, Jan. 6, Kyodo
A Tokyo court ordered a publisher Friday to suspend publication of a bestseller nonfiction book featuring links of a conservative lobby to a religious group, saying the book has some untrue information following a defamation claim.
Published last year, “Nippon Kaigi no Kenkyu” (A Study on the Japan Conference), written in Japanese by Tamotsu Sugano, claims the lobby has influence on the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and criticizes the administration’s drive toward revising the war-renouncing Constitution.
The decision by the Tokyo District Court came after a man in his 70s who appeared in the book filed a lawsuit, arguing it damaged his reputation and demanded Fusosha Publishing Inc. to suspend sales of the book.
The court issued an injunction against publication of the book, saying it contains some misinformation and significantly damages his reputation.
In the ruling, Judge Nobuyuki Seki said there was untrue description of the man, who used to be a senior member of a religious group, regarding his missionary work, and the author did not interview the man.
The judge concluded the book cannot be published unless it removes the description, saying the man’s social reputation will worsen to a level that would be difficult to restore if the book continues to be sold as is.
It is rare for a court to suspend publication of a bestseller in Japan. The book has sold around 153,000 copies since its release last spring.
The author of the book criticized the court decision as “suppression of free speech,” saying it is “extremely regrettable” that one part of the book was ordered to be deleted.
But Sugano also said he was “relieved” to hear the court dismissed most of the man’s demand to remove and revise other parts of the book.
The publisher can file an objection to the court and suspend the injunction. The publisher’s lawyer said it is now considering whether to take such a measure.