National

Tokyo, Kanagawa bow to wiretap ruling

The central government and Kanagawa Prefecture said July 10 they will not appeal a June 26 high court ruling ordering them to pay about 4 million yen in damages for the 1986 wiretapping of the home phone of then Japanese Communist Party official Yasuo Ogata.

Ogata, who is now an Upper House member of the JCP, was head of the party’s international department when three Kanagawa detectives wiretapped his Machida, Tokyo, home in 1986. He and his relatives, who had sued for the damages, accepted the ruling in their favor and said they would not appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

The National Police Agency said it would not appeal the high court ruling because of legal restrictions on criteria for appeals. Kanagawa Prefectural Police, whose three detectives wiretapped Ogata’s phone, said it would not appeal because it had no reason to do so.

In the suit, the Tokyo District Court ruled in September 1994 that the detectives wiretapped Ogata’s telephone as part of their police duties and that the NPA’s Security Bureau was in a position to know about it. The district court ordered the state and prefectural police and the three detectives to pay 2.06 million yen to the plaintiffs.

Upholding the lower court ruling that the wiretapping was conducted systematically, the Tokyo High Court doubled the damage award. The high court also scrapped the damage payment order for the three detectives, ruling that the State Tort Liabilities Law is not designed to hold state civil servants liable for damages for which the state is held responsible.

The wiretapping was uncovered when a length of phone cable was found that did not belong to any utility company in a bundle of phone and power cables linked to Ogata’s Machida home. Ogata asked the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the wiretapping but the prosecutor’s office did not take action against the three detectives and others involved.

Apart from the damage suit filed by Ogata and his family, residents around his house filed a lawsuit seeking a court order for Kanagawa police to repay the prefectural government for the wiretapping expenses. That suit is still pending before the Tokyo High Court.

In connection with the development in the original suit, Mitsuhiro Kaneko, vice chairman of the JCP’s central executive committee, said the party would urge the government of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and police to apologize to Ogata and his family and promise not to repeat such actions in the future.