Sept. 2003 – No. 7
On September 9, 2003, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in Soka Gakkai’s favor in a defamation suit against Nichiren Shoshu and its high priest Nikken Abe. Soka Gakkai filed the suit in January 1996 after Nichiren Shoshu and Abe alleged that it had illegally planted a fraudulent entry in US government records relating to the so-called “Seattle Incident.”
The background to this is that a Soka Gakkai newspaper had reported in June 1992 that when Abe visited Seattle, Washington for religious purposes in 1963, he went out at night and got involved in an altercation with local prostitutes to which the police were called (the “Seattle Incident”). Nichiren Shoshu brought a libel suit against Soka Gakkai for reporting this. Tokyo District Court found that the incident had in fact occurred and the Soka Gakkai report was true, and dismissed Nichiren Shoshu’s claims. After appealing to the Tokyo High Court, Nichiren Shoshu withdrew the entire case in January 2002.
During the course of that case, when the Soka Gakkai newspaper reported that there was a record about the incident in U.S. government files, Nichiren Shoshu publicly claimed at a press conference that the Gakkai had illegally planted the record, calling the Soka Gakkai “international criminals.” Further, Nichiren Shoshu published these allegations in its publications and distributed more than 1.35 million copies, not only to its temples and associates but to political, public and educational institutions, as well as key individuals both in Japan and in the US. High Priest Abe Nikken stated that the incident had been a “conspiracy” and that the official US government record regarding the Seattle Incident had been “fabricated.” In turn, Soka Gakkai had filed a suit against Nichiren Shoshu and Abe for libel in August 1996.)
In the current libel case, the Tokyo High Court had concluded in February 2003 that there was no evidence of Soka Gakkai planting a fraudulent record in any US government files. It further found that Soka Gakkai did not illegally access any US government database and ruled that Nichiren Shoshu’s and Abe’s allegations were therefore unfounded and defamatory and ordered them to pay Soka Gakkai 4 million yen (about US$29,700) for damages. On September 9, the Supreme Court dismissed the defendants’ appeal and supported the High Court’s decision on the case.
(From Seikyo Shimbun, Sept. 11, 2003)