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Home > Media Reiews > Other Review Last Updated: 14:56 03/09/2007
Other Review #32: April 5, 2004

Japan Media Review Update: April 5, 2004

JMR Staff (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California)

The following reviews are posted at:

High Court Lifts Injunction in Shukan Bunshun's Privacy Case
From The Daily Yomiuri: On March 31, the Tokyo High Court revoked a district court injunction that had banned publication of an article in the March 25 issue of Shukan Bunshun. The article delved into the private life of the daughter of Makiko Tanaka, a former foreign minister. Upon the daughter's claim that her privacy had been violated, the lower court issued a temporary injunction against the issue of the weekly magazine. Makoto Nemoto, the ruling judge in the high court that revoked the injunction, acknowledged that the article violated the defendant's privacy, but said it did not harm her reputation. The damage done, he added, did not warrant an injunction. Tanaka's daughter is planning to appeal to the Supreme Court. According to the high court, the elements that should be considered in the ruling are the "public interest, public benefit and whether the article may cause serious and irreparable damage to the person mentioned in the article." The high court also described the district court's injunction before the publication as "impermissible," because it would "seriously limit freedom of expression" protected in the Constitution. According to an article in The Japan Times, the magazine's publisher applauded the ruling but warned that the threat of court action to stop stories' publication "will continue to have an unjust and intimidating effect on reporting." (See also Week in Review 03.22.04, 03.25.04 and 03.30.04.)
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Keiko Mori

Japan Moves to Keep Microsoft in Check
From the Associated Press via InformationWeek: Japanese antitrust authorities raided Microsoft's Tokyo offices in February, sending a message that the country would follow the lead of the United States and Europe in investigating possible abuses by the software behemoth. Authorities fear that Microsoft's access to companies' proprietary information could give it an unfair advantage in the burgeoning digital media market. At issue is language in contracts between Japanese hardware makers and Microsoft that bars licensees from taking legal action against Microsoft over patent violations. As electronics firms develop new gadgets for playing digital content, companies fear that Microsoft could learn about their products and then use the information to strengthen an already dominant market position. Meanwhile, Japan's trade ministry is promoting the use of alternate operating systems, such as Linux, both at home and in collaboration with the governments of China and South Korea.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Eric Ulken

Media Hit Again; Major Japanese Publisher Loses Defamation Case
From Kyodo News via Japan Today: Shinchosha Co., a leading publishing company, was ordered by the Tokyo District Court on March 29 to pay $42,000 to a former official from Belarus' Japanese Embassy and apologize for a magazine story that accused him of paying for sex. According to ruling Judge Yoshiteru Kawamura, the article didn't "back up the testimony of those concerned," writes Kyodo News. Recently, several publishing companies have been accused of defamation and invasion of privacy. Another publishing company, Bungei Shunju, recently defended itself against a publication injunction, stating that the public had a right to know about the private lives of well-known individuals. (See also Week In Review 03.22.04) The injunction was against an article in Shukan Bunshun, a weekly magazine, which exposed the personal life of the daughter of former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka. The publisher argued that the daughter was not a private citizen because her mother is a public figure. In another case, the son of a famous Japanese baseball player said his privacy would be violated if weekly magazine Shukan Shincho published an article with details on struggles in his personal life. (See Week in Review 03.24.04)
-- By Japan Media Review Contributing Writer Sunny Yu

Foreign Affairs Ministry: Press Conferences to Be Opened to Foreign Media
From Agence France-Presse via EU Business: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement announcing that foreign journalists will be allowed to participate in press conferences in Japan organized by exclusive press clubs. This is the ministry's response to two years of demands by the European Union that Japan amend its strict press club system. According to the statement, the ministry requested that official organizations permit foreign news reporters with Foreign Press Registration Cards to attend both central and local government press conferences -- the question is whether press clubs will comply. The ministry wrote in its statement that this major decision will "help promote dissemination of accurate information on Japan." In the past, news conferences conducted by press clubs have generally been closed to journalists outside of Japan. Some clubs allowed foreign journalists to attend a small number of press conferences, but only if they reserved a seat and agreed not to ask questions. (See also Week in Review 02.22.04.)
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Keiko Mori

Court Permits Online News Headlines to Be Copied
From Mainichi Daily News: The Tokyo District Court ruled on March 24 that copyright does not apply to online news headlines in a Yomiuri Shimbun case against an Internet company. The decision is the first in the country concerning copyright infringement for Web headlines. Yomiuri Shimbun had sued Digital Alliance, arguing that original and minimally modified headlines from the newspaper were appearing on Digital Alliance's site without authorization. Presiding Judge Toshiaki Iimura of the district court concluded that the duplication of headlines "that are open to the public on the Internet" without permission is not a copyright violation, based on the notion that "headlines ... cannot be described as creative expression." A Yomiuri representative said the newspaper would appeal.
-- By Japan Media Review Associate Editor Keiko Mori

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