A now defunct Fukushima-Daiichi plant is at the heart of a nuclear defamation lawsuit between Japan’s former Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, and the country’s current (at the time of this writing) Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
2011 Japanese Nuclear Disaster
On March 11, 2011 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan. Soon after, a 14-meter tsunami crashed into its shores, and the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered severe damage.
In the wake of the crisis, public outlets praised then prime minister Naoto Kan for his leadership skills, arguing that his insistence that employees remain on post mitigated the power plant disaster.
Disaster Leads To Nuclear Defamation Lawsuit
Shinzo Abe, however, doesn’t think Kan deserves credit for allaying the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster. In fact, Abe penned and posted a critical essay about the incident – specifically questioning Kan’s leadership during the crisis.
Needless to say, Kan took issue with Abe’s characterization and filed a defamation lawsuit.
Why Is This Considered Defamation? Isn’t Abe Just Exercising Free Speech Rights?
United States defamation laws are very different than Japanese ones.
In the U.S., plaintiffs must prove that defendants purposefully or negligently made false statements of fact to inflict harm.
Under Japanese defamation law, however, honor matters more than truth. In fact, when announcing his nuclear defamation claim, Kan asserted at a news conference, “The article has severely damaged my honor,” he finished.
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