Sugok Shin wins “ground-breaking” defamation lawsuit concerning DHC program News Girls

Sugok Shin wins “ground-breaking” defamation lawsuit concerning DHC program News Girls

Sugok Shin, a representative of the plaintiff organization that opposes hate speech, gave an interview on the afternoon of September 1 in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, after the Tokyo District Court's decision.

September 2, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo

Sugok Shin and other plaintiffs were interviewed in Tokyo on September 1 regarding the Tokyo District Court’s decision in their defamation lawsuit concerning the television program News Girls (Nyūsu Joshi), which picked up the topic of protest activities against U.S. military helipad construction in the surroundings of Takae, Higashi Village in Okinawa Prefecture. Shin called the decision that the defendant must publish a public apology “ground-breaking”, and, looking forward, she said, “In the next stage, we must fight on.”

In her interview, Shin commented on this program by DHC Television, saying, “It was malicious fake news ridiculing the peace movement.” The program that sparked the lawsuit was broadcast in January 2017. In the program, Shin was referred to as a “black curtain behind the opposition movement”, and citizens opposing helipad construction were referred to as “terrorists”. Shin suffered damage from not-factually-based slander that was spread on the internet, including on social networking services. Looking back, she said, “It was merciless.”

Shin’s rigid countenance did not falter when the decision was handed down, but she choked up during her interview. She explained her state of mind, saying, “I had the thought ‘what will happen if I lose?’”

The team of lawyers commented that the decision by the court for “5,500,000 yen” (approximately $50,000) to be paid in damages and ordering the publication of an apology was the best-case scenario.

The lawyer Katsuhiko Tsukuda said, “The damages are extremely high compared to other judicial precedents set. It is my understanding that the court’s message takes into consideration the severity of harm that Shin suffered in that it is also exceptional that a public apology was awarded.”

Shin alluded to the fact that the day the decision was handed down overlapped with the anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake as well as a massacre of many Korean people that was instigated on the basis of misinformation.

She brought up the danger of being influenced by unreliable information, saying, “The incitement led to many Korean people being killed. Those who created the program are also in the wrong, but the people who incited [the killing] were far more immoral.”

In the lawsuit, the request concerning Yukihiro Hasegawa and the request that distribution of the program be stopped were not approved. Shin expressed her intention to appeal to a higher court to also request a judicial decision on these matters.

She said, “I want to show [people] what is happening in Okinawa”, bringing up the current situations in Okinawa including that helipad construction in Takae is still being forced through and construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility in Henoko, Nago City is also moving forward. She also stated, “Everyone is turning a blind eye to this cruelty. Each one of us should turn our attention to it earnestly.”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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