NPA probes 19 over slander on comedian’s blog

by Reiji Yoshida

In a rare Internet crackdown, police have turned over to prosecutors their case against a 29-year-old woman and plan to hand another 18 suspects over for abusive comments posted on the blog of a 37-year-old Japanese comedian, police sources said Thursday.

The 29-year-old Kawasaki woman allegedly posted a death threat on the blog of comedian Smiley Kikuchi, writing “I will kill you” in December, a police source said.

The other 18 include a 17-year-old girl and 45-year-old man, who allegedly posted messages last year claiming the comedian was involved in the murder of a high school girl in 1988, the source said.

The allegation is groundless and police are sending the cases to prosecutors on suspicion of defamation, the source said.

This case is likely the first crackdown on what is known in Internet parlance as a flame attack, or “enjo” in Japanese, as far as the National Policy Agency knows, an NPA official told The Japan Times.

Many bloggers, including well-known TV celebrities, have been flamed recently, and many have shut down their blogs because of the rumors or abusive language.

In Kikuchi’s case, anonymous Internet users have been accusing the comedian of participating in the murder of a high school girl who was encased in concrete and dumped.

Hundreds of messages denouncing him as a murderer have reportedly been posted on the blog and many other Web sites recently.

Kikuchi and his agent, Ohta Production Inc., initially declined comment out of fear of drawing further attacks on the Web. But Kikuchi released a comment later in the day saying the information in circulation contains factual errors.

“For about 10 years, I, Smiley Kikuchi, have been suffering from slanderous remarks from anonymous people all over the Internet,” he said.

“All (of the Web allegations) are groundless. . . . The attacks have escalated to the point where I myself feel my life is in danger,” he said in a written statement.

He also said that some media reports said a TV agency once marketed Kikuchi using the catchphrase “former delinquent boy,” but that the reports were all wrong.

“I express my deep appreciation to the police officers who conducted the investigation and pray that an incident like this will never happen again,” he said.