Edited by András Koltay and Paul Wragg
Chapter 25: Defamation and privacy law in Japan – from a comparative perspective
This chapter examines defamation and privacy law in Japan and compares it mainly to the law of the United States (US). The chapter discusses each element of Japanese defamation law in detail and concludes that Japanese law has given stronger protection to reputation and has been harsher on freedom of expression than its US equivalent. For instance, Japanese courts allow public officials to recover damages in defamation suits, which is virtually impossible in the US. The basic structure of privacy protection in Japanese law is similar to the US, but when privacy conflicts with freedom of expression, Japanese courts tend to protect privacy more rigorously than in the US. The author also details problems concerning a recent development of the new media, including online intermediaries’ liabilities and the right to erasure in Japanese law. The Japanese statute grants narrower immunity to intermediaries than the US equivalent. Although there is no explicit reference to the right to erasure in Japanese codes or statutes, the Supreme Court of Japan held that an injunction to delete a search result is available when the interest of privacy apparently outweighs the interest of free expression. In this respect, Japanese law takes a similar position to European law, under which the courts sometimes held that online private information shall be deleted.
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