The Tokyo High Court upheld on June 26 a lower court ruling and ordered the national government and Kanagawa Prefecture to pay about 4 million yen in damages to a former Japanese Communist Party official for bugging his home phone in Machida, Tokyo, in 1986.
The high court said a Kanagawa Prefectural Police official wiretapped the conversations of Yasuo Ogata and his family in a planned and consistent manner. Ogata was the JCP’s international department chief at the time.
The court, however, dropped the district court order that three investigators pay damages to Ogata, who is currently a member of the Upper House, and his family. The court said the national compensation system is not aimed at holding individual public workers liable for their duties.
Presiding Judge Nagao Murata said the National Police Agency may have received reports on the results of the bugging, but no evidence indicated that the NPA conspired in the case. It ruled that the national government is responsible only for the illegal activity by a Kanagawa police security department chief, who was a central government employee.
“It was a grave invasion of the privacy of communications, which is guaranteed by the Constitution,” the court ruled. “The plaintiffs suffered serious mental anguish because the police wiretapping infringed on their freedom of political activity.” The court doubled the amount of damages from the district court ruling.
The Tokyo District Court ruled in September 1994 that three police officers engaged in the wiretap as part of their duties on the prefectural force, and the NPA’s security bureau was in a position to know the details of the illicit activity.