The Tokyo District Court recently ruled that three newspapers libeled a doctor at Tokyo Women’s Medical College Hospital by publishing a wire service report. But it acquitted the news agency that dispatched the article. This bizarre ruling carries the danger of greatly hampering newspaper reporting activities.

Akita Sakigake Shimpo, Jomo Shimbun (in Maebashi) and Shizuoka Shimbun had published a July 2002 Kyodo News article about the death of a 12-year-girl following a heart operation at the hospital in 2001. The doctor who performed the operation was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department and charged with professional negligence resulting in death. His criminal trial continues in Tokyo High Court.

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