Friday, August 5, 2016

"Singer Akina Nakamori wins damages suit over secret photograph"

From Japan Today, 7/28/16.

A secret photograph of singer Akina Nakamori taken during a break from show business aggravated her illness and may have delayed the resumption of her career, a court ruled Wednesday, ordering a publisher and a photographer to pay compensation to the veteran singer.

The Tokyo District Court awarded the 51-year-old Nakamori 5.5 million yen in compensation from Shogakukan Inc and the photographer for mental distress. The singer had sought 22 million yen.

In November 2013, the photographer captured an image of Nakamori inside her Tokyo apartment, using a telephoto lens from an apartment about 45 meters away. Shogakukan printed the image in the Josei Seven weekly magazine for women.

Nakamori, who was taking a break from her career due to illness, “suffered tremendous pain due to the illegal photograph,” Presiding Judge Yuko Mizuno said. As a result, the singer was obliged to move to a different location.

Nakamori, who debuted in 1982 with the single “Slow Motion,” resumed television appearances more than a year later at the end of 2014 when she sang in NHK’s “Kohaku” (red and white) annual song festival.

The male photographer had been convicted of violating the Minor Offenses Law by the Tokyo Summary Court, which found his act was a form of voyeurism.


This is a case where someone's personal privacy was violated, a photo published without consent and a lawsuit being won by the victim under a Japanese law that is quite different than in other countries. Here's the gist of this Japanese defamation law.

In Japanese, then, defemation/meiyo kison is not about damage to mere reputation (hyoban)... it's about damage to honor (meiyo)... Reputation/hyoban is the view from the outside, how others see you... Honor/meiyo has several definitions... [I]t also includes... internal feelings that can be variously described as pride, personal integrity, dignity, or awareness of the worth of one's character. It's this concept of honor as both internal feelings and external reputation that illuminates the Japanese defamation law regime. (From Mark D. West. 2006 Secrets, Sex and Spectacle: The Rules of Scandal in Japan and the United States. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Chapter 3 "Privacy and Honor" p. 79)

For more on these issues in Japan, please review the Shooting Culture in Japan Project on VAOJ.

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