Libel cases involving Twitter posts on rise in Japan


Japan has seen dozens of libel cases involving Twitter posts in the past two years, with some users taking over others’ accounts and posting content that tarnishes the reputations of the real users.

There were at least 26 court orders by Japanese courts to the U.S. microblogging service company to delete posts or disclose user information over defamation through tweets, and the number is expected to grow as more users are filing similar claims, people familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

Of the 26 temporary injunctions, 13 called for information disclosure, such as the IP addresses that identify users, four urged the deletion of posts, and nine ordered both, the people said.

Twitter’s Japan business said the company bans users from posting defamatory messages or uploading inappropriate images. It considers deleting posts upon user requests.

In one case, the Twitter account of a Hokkaido woman in her 20s was taken over by a user who posted sexual images and solicited sex online while pretending to be the woman.

The Tokyo District Court in January granted the woman disclosure of the user’s IP address, leading to the identification of the person who posted the sexual images. The posts were subsequently deleted.

In October, a Niigata couple were awarded a temporary injunction after they found their 1-year-old daughter’s image misused and claimed by another user as a “grandchild (who) died in a rally to protest the security bills.”

Yohei Shimizu, a lawyer who has dealt with many such libel cases, warned people not to be blase about posting online, saying it is “legally possible to find out who makes (defamatory) posts.”