Plaintiffs win damages for privacy violation

Tokyo ordered to pay Muslims


The Tokyo District Court ordered the metropolitan government Wednesday to pay ¥90.2 million in damages to 17 Muslims for violating their privacy by leaking their personal data in 2010.

“The data were created by police, held by the Third Foreign Affairs Division of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau and leaked by some insider,” presiding Judge Masamitsu Shiseki said. “The MPD is responsible for having failed to properly supervise the data.”

The plaintiffs are Muslims from Japan, Algeria, Iran, Tunisia and Morocco.

The court said 114 documents about the 17 and other Muslims as well as their society in Japan were leaked on the Internet in 2010, including their names, birth dates, photos, addresses and contacts as collected through the MPD’s international counterterrorism investigations.

The data were downloaded through file-swapping software more than 10,000 times in over 20 countries, it said.

The leak of the data could lead the plaintiffs to be suspected by third parties as terrorists, the ruling said, adding: “The results amount to a grave violation of privacy or defamation.”

The plaintiffs criticized the investigations as an illegal act violating their freedom of religion and filed a criminal complaint with the Tokyo prosecutor’s office. But the office dropped the complaint last August.

Wednesday’s ruling defended the MPD’s collection of such data.

  • Steve Jackman

    So, the Japanese court has legally sanctioned the government to racially profile its Japanese citizens and residents, by giving the Japanese government its official approval and permission to racially profile them based on their religious beliefs. This smacks of the early days of the rise of Nazism, when the Nazis racially profiled Germany’s Jewish population based solely on their religious beliefs.

    The Japanese court has ruled that the police can gather information on Japanese citizens and residents, based solely on the reason that they are Muslim. It cited that terrorist attacks had been carried out by Islamic radicals around the world, and the ruling stated that, “There is a sufficient danger that such acts could also occur in Japan”. Never mind, that these muslim citizens and residents have committed no crimes, have nothing to do with terrorism, and that until now Japan has only experienced home grown terrorism, which has nothing to do with its muslim population.

    After the court’s verdict, the lawyer for the muslim plaintiffs stated, “The ruling allowed the gathering of information just because an individual happened to be a Muslim”. He further raised concerns about the effects of the court’s ruling in light of the recent enactment in Japan of the state secrets protection law, which defines information related to terrorism as being subject to classification as a state secret. “The gathering of information itself will become a secret and there would be no brakes applied on investigations conducted by those in public security,” he said.

    This is indeed a sad day for democracy and human rights in Japan. I hope that human rights organizations around the world, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, take note of this court ruling, and that they urge the Japanese judicial system to reverse this ruling upon appeal.

    • Yoshiko

      Are you serious? What is about nationality or race about here? Please use dictionary about national socialism.
      So, they gathered information about citizen (name, address, occupation) and what? Where is the tragedy here? Everyone gathering info about anyone – banks, employers and etc. There’s no place in “real life” where you can be anonymous (not identified).

      • Toolonggone

        Gathering personal information under the name of national security and selling it to the third party–or letting off to the public. That’s how it contributes to the incident that results in personal tragedy (i.e., stalker-murder; wrong arrest, detention & false charges against innocent victims). Technically, the Japanese court grants NPA the rights that equalizes NSA’s spying on citizens–as far as the police authority would keep information from being tipped off to the public.

      • IanPG

        Not racist, but it’s clear that the Japanese government is/was suspicious of Muslims. Was it simply because they were Muslim and living in Japan? It sounds odd that the government would release their names, addresses, and religious affiliation to the public as though they were a threat to Japanese society.

  • These are the kind of monetary lawsuit awards that are contributing to the decline of the American system and society. The “American Dream” is no longer to pull oneself up and become successful; it is to win a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a governmental organization or corporation with deep pockets. I shudder to think that Japan will follow down that same path.