The Tokyo High Court has upheld a lower court decision that ordered a writer and publisher to pay 500,000 yen in compensation to a former Imperial Japanese Army corporal who maintained he had been incorrectly mentioned in a book on the Nanking Massacre.
The 83-year-old veteran, who was not named, filed a libel suit against Shiro Azuma, 86, also an army veteran, and Aoki Shoten, a Tokyo-based publishing house that put out the book in 1989. The suit demanded 2 million yen in compensation.
The publishing house edited the book on the basis of a diary written by Azuma, who was one of the plaintiff’s subordinates in the army.
In an earlier ruling, the Tokyo District Court ordered Azuma and the publisher to pay 500,000 yen to the plaintiff, saying the credibility of some parts of the book’s descriptions of atrocities carried out by the Imperial army were questionable. The defendants appealed.
Dismissing the appeal Tuesday, presiding Judge Koetsu Okuyama of the Tokyo High Court said Azuma’s diary describes some Imperial Japanese Army actions that cannot be recognized as fact.
The diary entry in question says the former corporal “put a Chinese person in a bag, set it on fire and then threw it into a pond after tying a hand grenade to it.” The court ruled that it would be “extremely difficult to do this without the danger of getting burned,” and said it was unlikely that this was fact.
The high court, however, avoided ruling on whether the Nanking Massacre actually happened or was fabricated, saying that making a judgment on the issue would not help clarify this particular case. Expressing strong disapproval of Tuesday’s ruling, Azuma’s lawyers said they will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.