Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blog writers beware!

From today's Japan Today:

Libel suit filed against doctor-writer over blog entry

An academic blogger critiquing a government funded study, albeit done by his rival it seems, is being sued! Beware of Japanese libel laws! Can academic critique be grounds for a libel case in Japan? Even if the defendant is found innocent, as he most likely will be, the idea that this case actually is going to court and the costs involved are ridiculous.

Story below:

A pathologist-writer, known for his bestselling novel "Team Batista no Eiko" (The Glory of Team Batista) that depicts the inside story of medical practice, has been sued for libel by a fellow pathologist over his blog entry, judicial sources said Wednesday. Takeru Kaido, who promotes autopsy imaging, or the use of postmortem imaging in an autopsy, criticized Masashi Fukayama in his blog for disrupting the spread of what would help identify the causes of patients’ deaths.

In his suit for 14.3 million yen in total damages, Fukayama, a professor at the University of Tokyo and a vice president of the Japanese Society of Pathology, also targets two publishers that carried Kaido’s blog on their websites, according to his written complaint.

At issue is Fukayama’s finding in a study subsidized by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in fiscal 2008 that autopsy imaging would not be a substitute for postmortem dissection, while providing useful information before such an autopsy.

In his blog, Kaido, a graduate of Chiba University’s School of Medicine and who works for a medical research institute in Chiba City, accused Fukayama of "seizing credit for others’ work," as well as "messing up studies on autopsy imaging" and helping the health ministry "wreck" autopsy imaging.

"I have had no contact from Mr Kaido and the content (of his blog) is false," Fukayama says in his complaint. "I have incurred great trouble since access (to the blog) has been very busy."

In his written reply, Kaido argues that "the study is nothing new and is disrupting the spread and development of the adoption of autopsy imaging by placing undue emphasis on dissection," adding that his blog entry is public in nature because Fukayama holds a public post.

Kaido has called for the widespread use of autopsy imaging as a step to determine whether dissection is needed, as it allows a quick examination of bodies without damaging them.

It is expected to help address the declining rate of autopsies after patients die, according to the Japan Society of Autopsy Imaging, which Kaido helped establish in 2004.

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