Posted by debito on March 6th, 2007
Hi Blog. A roundup of the trouble that 2ch is making for Japan’s judiciary. One of those 43 unresolved lawsuits happens to be mine. More on that at
Arudou Debito in Tatebayashi
Message board owner has lost 43 lawsuits
The Yomiuri Shimbun Mar. 6, 2007
Hiroyuki Nishimura, the operator of the nation’s largest Internet message board, 2channel, has lost at least 43 of more than 50 civil lawsuits filed against him in Tokyo and elsewhere over defamation and other charges, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.
Nishimura, 30, has been ordered to pay a total of about 58 million yen in damages, but has defied court orders by failing to pay most of it, and as a result has been fined the equivalent of about 880,000 yen a day, or more than 434 million yen cumulatively.
It appears Nishimura has not complied with any orders for payment of damages, meaning most of the plaintiffs have not received compensation despite winning lawsuits.
Observers have pointed out that this illustrates the lawlessness on the Internet and the limits in terms of judicial action that can be taken against those who break the law online.
Since 2001, more than 50 lawsuits have been filed against Nishimura with the Tokyo District Court alone. Nishimura’s defeat in court was finalized in 40 of the cases, as well as in respect of lawsuits filed with the Sapporo, Osaka and Kobe district courts.
In the lawsuits, the plaintiffs called for the deletion of content on the discussion board, the disclosure of information on message writers and the financial compensation from Nishimura over his neglect to eliminate problematic writings.
In a libel case filed by a Tokyo animal clinic operator in July 2001 over a post that described the clinic as “nasty,” Nishimura was ordered to pay 4 million yen in damages. The ruling has been finalized.
In a case filed by a Hokkaido associate professor in January last year seeking damages over messages that denounced him as racist and psychotic [guess who], Nishimura was ordered to pay 1.1 million yen in damages. The court ruling to that effect was finalized.
In many of his trials, Nishimura neither employed a lawyer nor attended hearings, resulting in the court handing down decisions all in favor of the plaintiffs. Nishimura rarely appealed the rulings.
According to the Yomiuri survey, Nishimura complied with court orders for removing messages in 11 cases and disclosing information in three cases.
But he has not paid up in any of the 21 cases in which he was ordered to pay damages.
As a result, the plaintiffs in nine of the cases filed for court orders for the seizure of Nishimura’s assets. But the plaintiffs could secure only 3 million yen in four cases.
The seizure of Nishimura’s assets did not prove successful because it has proved hard to trace his bank accounts, and even when his accounts were found, there was little money in them.
Another reason is because the court was told by a company at which Nishimura served as director of the board that it did not pay him remuneration.
Those libeled on the forums have filed for provisional injunctions ordering the removal of certain posts and the disclosure of information on their authors. If the defendant does not follow a court ruling or provisional injunction order, the court, based on the demands by the plaintiff, can order the defendant to pay a daily fine until he or she complies with the order.
Such system has been applied to Nishimura in five cases. He is now obliged to pay about 880,000 yen a day. As of March 1, the cumulative fines came to 434 million yen.
The Yomiuri Shimbun has sent e-mail requests to Nishimura since late last month asking him for an interview, but had received no response as of Monday.
Nishimura started 2channel in 1999 while he was studying in the United States.
The message board is subdivided into various categories in which people can write on any topic anonymously.
(Mar. 6, 2007)