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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 February 3 - 9  > High court rules SDF monitoring of public unconstitutional
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2016 February 3 - 9 [SDF]

High court rules SDF monitoring of public unconstitutional

February 3, 2016
The Sendai High Court ruled on February 2 that the Japanese Self-Defense Forces had unconstitutionally been spying on ordinary citizens, and ordered the national government to pay compensation to a plaintiff.

This is the second ruling against the SDF for its intelligence activities following the one issued by the Sendai District Court in March 2012.

The SDF intelligence security unit, a counterespionage organ under the direct command of the Defense Minister, was routinely monitoring people involved in a movement opposing the dispatch of SDF troops to Iraq and was collecting their personal information in secret. In June 2007, the Japanese Communist Party obtained the SDF’s internal documents on the spy operations and revealed them. It sent shock waves among the public.

The high court decision ordered the central government to pay a plaintiff 100,000 yen in damages for invasion of the right to privacy, which is guaranteed under the Japanese Constitution. The plaintiff, an amateur singer, had called for peace by staging street performances many times. On the other hand, the court dismissed claims from the four other complainants because of their positions as “public figures”, including a local legislator.

The latest judgment also condemns the intelligence unit for keeping tabs on even union workers engaged in annual wage negotiations and visitors to an exhibition of works of Kobayashi Takiji, a well-known proletarian writer in prewar Japan, as these events had nothing to do with the SDF.

At a press conference following the ruling, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Sogo Hiroshi, said, “It is significant that the courts ruled the SDF acts to be illegal for the second time in a row.” The leader of the complainants’ group, Goto Toyo, expressed his determination to further strengthen the peace movement.

Past related article:
> SDF instructs its intelligence personnel to ‘neutralize’ citizens’ peace movements [June 28, 2015]
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