• JIJI, Kyodo


The Supreme Court said Wednesday it will reprimand a 52-year-old judge for his controversial social media post earlier this year, marking a first in Japan.

Judge Kiichi Okaguchi held a news conference later in the day and argued that the decision runs counter to his “freedom of expression.”

In May, he posted a comment on Twitter about a civil lawsuit over the ownership of a dog.

In the post, he criticized the dog’s original owner for trying to get the animal back from the current guardian after “abandoning it.”

He was not presiding over the suit, according to the top court.

The Twitter post “went beyond the tolerable limit for free speech” as it “gave rise to suspicion among the public that judges may have prejudices based on superficial and one-sided information and understanding,” the court said.

The top court condemned Okaguchi for unilaterally concluding that it was ridiculous for the original dog owner to file such a lawsuit, noting that all citizens have a right to sue.

Rejecting Okaguchi’s claim that a reprimand would be a violation of freedom of speech, the top court said that such a Twitter post by a judge could not be tolerated.

Okaguchi was slapped with lighter punitive measures for posting images of a naked man on Twitter in June 2016 and also tweeting in March about the 2015 murder of a 17-year-old high school girl in Tokyo.

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