WW2 Libel Case in Japan Dismissed

28 Mar 2008

Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe was accused by two retired Japanese officers on charges of libel. In his 1970 book Okinawa Notes, Oe claimed that the Japanese military gave official orders that demanded Okinawa residents to commit mass suicide as Americans advanced in 1945. The case was thrown out of court by Japanese judges. "Judge Toshimasa Fukami did not rule on whether the military ordered the mass suicides, but he concluded: 'The former Imperial Japanese Army was deeply involved in the mass suicides.'" Fukami also noted that Japanese officers distributed grenades to locals, and mass suicides took place only on islands where Japanese Army bases were located. The two retired Japanese officers were disappointed that the case was dismissed, while analysts noted that that the dismissal suggested that the judges agree with Oe's telling of the events in Okinawa.

Kenzaburo Oe is a major figure in contemporary Japanese literature. He is known for his writings in the realms of politics, social issues, philosophy, and the use of atomic weapons against Japan. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994.

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Thomas Dodd, late 1945