Koizumi aide loses libel suit over magazine article

Koizumi aide loses libel suit over magazine article

TOKYO, Oct. 13 Kyodo

The Tokyo District Court rejected a demand Thursday by a key aide to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for damages from the publisher of a magazine branding him as a ”shadow prime minister.”

Presiding Judge Yoichi Sato dismissed Isao Iijima’s demand for 11 million yen in compensation from Kodansha Ltd., saying the expression is permissible as a satirical metaphor.

The weekly Shukan Gendai carried an article in its Aug. 21-28, 2004, edition titled, ”The ‘shadow prime minister’ boasts; Secretary Iijima says to the premier, ‘Abe is not resigning but will be sacked,”’ referring to senior lawmaker Shinzo Abe.

Abe at that time was expressing his intention to step down from the post of secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to take responsibility for the party’s election setback. He was replaced the following month.

The plaintiff said the article defamed him by giving readers the impression he was maneuvering the premier’s personnel postings and other issues behind the scenes.

The judge said, however, that the article does not constitute defamation as it merely gives the impression that the secretary made remarks based on the premier’s intentions.

The Shukan Gendai appreciated the ruling, calling it ”a matter of course for recognizing the legitimacy of reports about a person at the political nerve center.”

Iijima said the article is groundless and will appeal.

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