translated by Brett Larner
On Apr. 15, Olympic 400 m hurdler Dai Tamesue won a libel lawsuit against the Shinchosha publishing group for damaging his name and reputation in the company's Weekly Shincho magazine and in its advertisements for the gossip publication. Tamesue sought approximately $450,000 in compensation, but Tokyo court chief justice Minoru Hatakeyama ruled that only Shinchosha's advertisements for its publication and not the actual magazine itself damaged Tamesue's name. Accordingly, he reduced the judgment against the company to approximately $22,000.*
The problem stemmed from Shinchosha's advertisements in subways and elsewhere for the Apr. 10, 2008 issue of the Weekly Shincho magazine. The advertisements juxtaposed the words 'Swindlers Exposed' and the name 'Dai Tamesue,' but the magazine itself did not contain such accusations against the two-time World Championships medalist.
In his ruling on the case, Judge Hatakeyama opined, "The magazine itself did not clearly state, 'The accusations against Mr. Tamesue are certain.'" He ruled that the contents of the magazine pointed out only true and verifiable facts. However, with regard to the advertisements for the magazine, he stated, "The ads went beyond merely trying to sell the magazine and gave the definite impression to anyone seeing them in a train that Mr. Tamesue was being accused of fraud. The actual magazine did not support this false impression." Thus, he found the publishers guilty of libel and awarded the damages in favor of Tamesue.
*Translator's note: Damages awarded in Japanese courts are typically far lower than in the U.S.A. and other litigation-oriented societies.