to the Dec. 1 article “Top court: Flier distributor trespassed,” Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that Buddhist monk Yosei Arakawa was guilty of trespassing when he distributed Japan Communist Party fliers at a condominium in Tokyo. Since the condominium complex, according to the article, had a notice banning distribution of fliers, it is hard to argue against the court decision. Arakawa’s argument that the ruling suppresses freedom of speech goes against common sense. Freedom of speech does not permit everybody to enter everybody’s house and give his opinion about whatever is on his mind.
On the other hand, democracy guarantees that we all be treated equally by law-enforcement institutions. So from now on, the police should arrest any person distributing fliers or leaflets wherever notices banning such distribution are put up, if the owner calls the police. And the courts must hand down the same sentence as they did to Arakawa — irrespective of whether the trespasser belongs to the left or right of Japanese politics, or whether someone is distributing commercial fliers.
Let’s also hope that the court’s ruling will lead to limits being set on noisy rightist campaigners, who seemingly believe that their right to freedom of speech allows them to disturb and annoy anybody as long as they do it from the streets.