The Tokyo District Court has seen a sharp increase in petitions for injunctions against malicious Internet postings in recent years, court sources said on Wednesday.
The number of such petitions, which include defamation and slander, handled by the court grew more than 20-fold in four years to 711 in 2013, due partly to the increasing popularity of social networking services, with citizens growing more aware of how to respond to malicious postings, they said.
The number rose from 33 in 2009 to 175 in 2010, 499 in 2011 and 736 in 2012.
The law for restricting responsibilities of Internet service providers, which took effect in 2002, allows citizens to ask providers to remove postings or identify posting contributors. But the trend shows judiciary proceedings are seen as an easy problem-solving tool.
The petitions usually seek to remove specific postings, to identify posting contributors or to ban the deletion of information about such contributors in preparation for filing libel suits.
Of the 711 petitions in 2013, 247 called for removing postings, 290 for identifying posting contributors and 174 for keeping information on posting contributors.
Since malicious postings are frequently repeated even after their removal, a rising number of petitions have demanded the identification of posting contributors to help prevent postings from being repeated or to file damages suits, a lawyer said.
Internet service providers accept the removal of postings, but often refuse to identify posting contributors, the lawyer said.