Soka Spirit
Tokyo High Court Dismissed the Appeal by Priests

Dec. 2004 – No. 1

Nov. 29, 2004, Tokyo, Japan: In an appeal trial over distribution of massive numbers of a libelous leaflets by Nichiren Shoshu (Chief Executive, Nikken Abe) and two Nichiren Shoshu believers, Kazuo Okusa and Shuichi Sanuki, Tokyo High Court supported the decision of a lower court , dismissed the appeal by Shoichi Sanuki, a Hokkeko member, and ordered him to pay 100 million yen to the Soka Gakkai as compensation.

In the verdict of a lower court on February 26, 2003, Judge Toshiaki Iimura recognized the Soka Gakkai’s claims as valid. The court ordered the priesthood, Okusa, and Sanuki to collectively pay 1 million yen in damages through a provisional order of payment and ordered Sanuki to discontinue distribution of the leaflets and dispose of those remaining.

One of the defendants, Okusa, is head of a group called Myokanko, a body of Nichiren Shoshu lay members associated with the Rikyo-bo lodging temple on the grounds of the head temple, Taiseki-ji. Sanuki is also member of this group. According to the verdict, Sanuki produced leaflets that were defamatory to the Soka Gakkai, using photographs printed in the Gakkai’s periodical Seikyo Graphic without permission, altering them in a malicious manner, and then distributing them through a group named ‘The Society to Protect Religion and Ideology’ around May, 2001.

In June of the same year, the Soka Gakkai filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court seeking restitution for damages and a court order banning distribution of these leaflets on grounds that they violated copyright laws.

The verdict of the lower court pointed out that the purpose of these leaflets was malicious misrepresentation and strictly denounced the defense’s position on the grounds that ‘it is incomprehensible that such usage is within what is commonly accepted as reasonable bounds, and it is also incomprehensible that using photographs in this manner is in accordance with fair practices.’ It was clear acknowledgement that Sanuki’s producing these leaflets constituted an act of ‘violation of copyright’ and ‘violation of the personal rights of an author.’

While the Tokyo high court recognized the responsibility of Shoichi Sanuki, they did not recognize the responsibility of Nichiren Shoshu (Chief Executive, Nikken Abe) and Kazuo Okusa. Soka Gakkai decided to appeal this to the Supreme Court.

(From Seikyo Shimbun, December 1, 2004)