21.03.2000 – 12:17
Judge Rules Incident Linking Nikken Abe, High Priest of Nichiren Shoshu And Seattle Prostitutes to Be True
Libel Case Against Soka Gakkai Dismissed
Tokyo (ots-PRNewswire) - The Tokyo District Court today ruled in a libel case involving reportage of an altercation between Nichiren Shoshu High Priest Nikken Abe and Seattle prostitutes in 1963. The judgment in favor of Soka Gakkai and Soka Gakkai Honorary President Daisaku Ikeda dismissed all charges against them.
Nichiren Shoshu and Taiseki-ji temple sued for libel in December 1993 over coverage in Soka Gakkai publications of an incident in which Nichiren Shoshu High Priest Nikken Abe was involved with a dispute over payment with prostitutes. Damages of 2 billion yen (US$19 million) had been sought. Chief Judge Fumio Shimoda announced that all complaints brought by the plaintiffs were dismissed and ordered Nichiren Shoshu to pay all court costs.
Soka Gakkai's lawyers commented, "We are glad that the factual nature of our reporting of this incident has been upheld. This judgment was to be expected."
In June 1992 the Soka Shimpo and Seikyo Shimbun published accounts by Seattle Soka Gakkai International member Mrs. Hiroe Clow of being called by local police in the early morning hours of March 20, 1963, to a downtown site where Mr. Nikken Abe, then Nichiren Shoshu Study Department Chief, had been involved in an altercation with prostitutes. Mr. Daisaku Ikeda also referred to Mrs. Clow's experience in speeches in 1992.
During the lengthy trial, much evidence was submitted in support of Mrs. Clow's account. She was called as a witness shortly before her death in 1996, and three former police officers also gave statements. The judgment comments that their accounts were consistent and convincing. Despite appearing in court three times himself, High Priest Nikken Abe was unable to convince the court with his denials. The judgment states: "After assessing four statements by Mr. Abe we cannot trust his statements," and concludes that the High Priest did ask a prostitute if he could take nude photos of her, that he had sexual intercourse with her and then became involved in an argument over payment."
In his summary, Chief Judge Shimoda commented, "according to the evidence submitted in this case, the above-mentioned articles refer to facts that are deemed to be in the public interest, and were written with the sole purpose of serving the public interest, and the above-mentioned incident caused by Mr. Nikken Abe is recognized to be true. Therefore reports in the above-mentioned articles etc. do not contravene the law. No defendant is responsible for any illegal act."
High Priest Nikken Abe stated publicly in August 1994 that if allegations about this incident were true, he would resign from his position.
Nichiren Shoshu has announced its intention to appeal today's court decision.
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Contact: Joan Anderson of Soka Gakkai International +81-3-5360-9830, or fax, +81-3-5360-9885
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