Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 21:42:22 -0500 From: Dave Banisar <email@example.com> Subject: [News] Japan Supreme Court Rebukes Judge for Comments Against Wiretapping To: Global Internet Liberty Campaign <firstname.lastname@example.org> Reply-to: email@example.comTOKYO, Dec. 2 (Kyodo) -- The Supreme Court has supported a high court's disciplinary action that reprimanded a district court judge for speaking at a political rally, saying restrictions on a judge's freedom of expression are constitutional, court officials said Wednesday.
In its ruling against an appeal from Kazushi Teranishi, 34, an assistant judge at the Sendai District Court, the Supreme Court's 15-justice grand bench recognized for the first time the constitutionality of the Court Organization Law that bans judges from engaging in "aggressive political activities."
In April, Teranishi spoke at a civic meeting in Tokyo that was called to protest an anti-organized crime bill allowing police to engage in wiretapping. He did not comment on the wiretapping issue, saying only that he had intended to speak as a panelist but was unable to do so because he had been warned against speaking by the head of the Sendai District Court. He was reprimanded in July by the Sendai High Court, and he immediately appealed the decision to the top court. Presiding Judge Shigeru Yamaguchi, chief justice of the Supreme Court, said in the ruling that Teranishi should be reprimanded because his deeds were "aggressive political activities" that conflicted with his duty as a judge. The ruling marked the first time that a judge in Japan has been reprimanded for political activities, a Supreme Court official said. Five of the 15 justices dissented from the ruling. Of the five, four judges who formerly were attorneys, said Teranishi's act did not constitute an "aggressive political activity." But the majority of justices maintained that Teranishi's remarks encouraged and promoted the civic movement against the wiretapping bill. Teranishi had argued his speech at the rally was just an explanation of his situation, not a political activity. Teranishi, who has expressed his views on judicial system reform by contributing articles to newspapers and magazines, insisted that attending the meeting and making remarks there were legitimate exercises of freedom of expression. -0-
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