Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Japan 9 February 2007

Music chart company urged to drop lawsuit against freelance journalist who questioned its practices

Reporters Without Borders appealed today to Koh Koike, the president of the Japanese music chart company Oricon, to withdraw a lawsuit against freelance journalist Hiro Ugaya for casting doubt on the validity of its pop music rankings in an interview for the magazine Cyzo. Oricon is demanding 50 million yen (318,000 euros) in damages and an apology. The journalist has to spend another 7 million yen in legal costs.

“The amount of damages requested by Oricon is out of all proportion and would ruin Ugaya,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is already hard enough to be a freelance journalist in Japan and this kind of lawsuit jeopardises journalistic investigation into the activities of private enterprise.”

Oricon brought its action against Ugaya before a Tokyo court on 17 November, citing the fact that he told Cyzo that Oricon inflated some of its sales figures for Japanese groups and used occasionally questionable methods to compile its charts.

Ugaya has written about Oricon’s activities in the past, but in this case he just answered questions put to him by Cyzo, which transcribed some of his comments for a 20-line report.

Oricon’s president Koike says the aim of the lawsuit is to get a public apology from Ugaya and thereby restore the company’s image. He says he would withdraw the suit if Ugaya issued a public retraction.

The case recalls the lawsuit which the credit and loans company Takefuji brought against several freelance journalists, including Katsuhisa Miyake, over their reports about its allegedly questionable practices. The journalists ended up winning the case, but it took four years.

Ugaya’s defenders condemn such lawsuits against freelance journalists as improper. One of his colleagues said: “This intimidatory procedure is a serious violation of free speech and threatens the future of freelance journalists.”

In this country
26 April - Japan/Beijing Olympics
Reporters Without Borders demonstrates during Olympic torch relay in Nagano
8 June - Japan
Authorities finally let well-known Chinese dissident enter Japan
21 July - Japan
Alarm at fire-bomb attack against financial paper
24 March - Japan
High Court throws out case against TV channel NHK in protection of sources case
17 October - Japan
Killer of freelance journalist Satoru Someya gets 14 years

in the annual report
Japan - Annual report 2008
Japan - Annual report 2007

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised