National / Crime & Legal

Japanese court orders Zushi Municipal Government to pay husband of stalking victim

Kyodo

A district court Monday ordered the city of Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, to pay ¥1.1 million in compensation for giving the address of a woman to the stalker who tracked her down and murdered her in 2012.

The 47-year-old husband of Rie Miyoshi had demanded ¥11 million from the municipal government for the violation of privacy.

A private detective hired by her former boyfriend obtained their address from the city by impersonating the husband.

Recognizing the city’s negligence, presiding Judge Isao Maesawa of the Yokosuka branch of the Yokohama District Court said, “Providing an address to a third party constitutes a breach of the obligation of confidentiality under a law on local public service.”

But he said the municipal government could not be blamed for the slaying itself since officials were not aware of the true intent of the person who obtained the information.

According to the ruling, the stalker, then 40, was arrested in June 2011 for sending messages threatening to kill Miyoshi. She requested that the city restrict the disclosure of her personal information the same month.

After being convicted and given a suspended prison term, the stalker hired the private detective to find her home address.

On Nov. 5, 2012, the detective pretended to be Miyoshi’s husband and obtained her address in a phone call to the Zushi Municipal Government before passing it on to the man, who murdered her and then killed himself.

The husband, whose name was not provided, argued that the city is liable for negligence as it provided the information without confirming it with the people concerned.

The city said it was unable to foresee that providing the information would lead to Miyoshi’s death.

Earlier reports said an ex-tax division chief, who was rehired to work in the same division after retirement, searched for and retrieved Miyoshi’s tax information. The leaker may have accessed Miyoshi’s personal information and passed it on to the private detective.

The husband said at a news conference after the ruling that he was satisfied with the ruling, which was a “wake-up call that information leakage should never happen.”

Zushi Mayor Ryuichi Hirai apologized again and said the city does not plan to appeal.

Prior to the ruling, the husband said he decided to sue the city to share his wife’s experience with society and help root out stalking. He said he has no intention of blaming the city staff responsible for releasing the address. Instead, he wants to publicize the poor sense of information management prevalent within the government.

The city offered an out-of-court settlement, which he rejected.

The manager of the detective agency was convicted in January 2015.

The incident led to a tightening of the anti-stalking law through the banning of repeated sending of emails by stalkers.