Web company asks court to dismiss CDP lawmakers’ libel case

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A Tokyo-based website consultancy is asking the Tokyo District Court to overturn a libel action launched by two members of the Upper House for the content of an anonymous tweet.

The court heard the first oral arguments in the case on December 10.

The two Diet members, both from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, say the tweet posted by an anonymous Twitter account named “Dappi” damaged their reputation.

They accuse the web company of being behind the publication of the tweet and are suing the company, its directors and its chairman.

“It can be presumed and recognized as the truth that the tweet was posted by a manager or employee of the website consulting firm or by someone who was hired to do work by the company,” contend the legislators.

But society is holding on and is asking for a dismissal.

The anonymous Twitter account in question posts videos of TV shows on the Internet along with texts of critical comments about opposition parties made by the people appearing on the shows. The account also repeatedly tweeted praising members of the ruling party.

The two lawmakers, Hiroyuki Konishi and Hideya Sugio, launched their lawsuit against the company in October following a tweet posted by Dappi on October 25, 2020.

The tweet read: “An official from the Kinki local finance office of the Ministry of Finance committed suicide after Hiroyuki Konishi and Hideya Sugio toasted him for an hour.”

The official committed suicide in 2018 after being forced to help falsify public documents regarding the office’s sale of state-owned land to Moritomo Gakuen, an Osaka-based private school operator linked to the wife of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Akie.

Two other court cases filed by the same two lawmakers had revealed that the website consulting firm was a subscriber to the ISP through which the tweet was posted.

These lawsuits, filed separately against Twitter Inc. and the Internet service provider, sought to disclose information about the poster’s identity. However, the relationship between the company and the poster remains unknown.

One of the main aspects of the latest court case is whether the identity of the actual poster will be revealed.

In a court document submitted by the ISP, a lawyer acting on behalf of the poster said: “The information was tweeted by the poster, not by an Internet service subscriber,” suggesting that the party having a contractual agreement with the ISP and the author of the tweet are different people.

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