In September 2003, Japan's Supreme Court ordered Nichiren Shoshu and then High Priest Nikken Abe to pay Soka Gakkai 4 million yen (approx. US$36,000) for damages following allegations that Soka Gakkai had illegally planted a false entry in a US federal government database.

In January 1995, Soka Gakkai's newspaper reported that the US federal government has record of the so-called Seattle Incident, an incident involving Nikken and the Seattle police (see section titled "Nichiren Shoshu Withdraws Claim at High Court's Recommendation," below). In response to this report, Nichiren Shoshu and Nikken publicly claimed at a press conference in November 1995 that the Gakkai had illegally fabricated and planted the record of the Seattle Incident in the US federal government database. Further, Nichiren Shoshu published in its publication on November 30, 1995, such accusations as--"Numerous heinous crimes committed by Soka Gakkai in the United States have been exposed"--and distributed more than 1.35 million copies, not only to its temples and associates but to politicians, public and educational institutions and key individuals in Japan. In January 1996, Soka Gakkai filed a libel suit against Nichiren Shoshu and Nikken in response. Furthermore, in May 2001, Nikken claimed in a book he authored that the record had been "fabricated."

The Tokyo District Court had concluded in February 2002 that there was no evidence to support the allegations forwarded by Nichiren Shoshu and Nikken and ruled that they were unfounded and defamatory. It ordered Nichiren Shoshu to pay 4 million yen (approx. US$36,000) in damages. The High Court further determined Nikken's liability in being part of this illegal act, stating that Nikken instructed Nichiren Shoshu's administrators to make such allegations. The High Court held Nikken jointly and severally liable with Nichiren Shoshu for the above damages. The Supreme Court of Japan, presided by four judges on the bench, unanimously upheld this ruling and rejected the appeal of Nichiren Shoshu and Nikken.

Nichiren Shoshu Withdraws Claim at High Court's Recommendation

In 1993, Nichiren Shoshu and Taisekiji temple filed a suit against Soka Gakkai and several others over articles in a Soka Gakkai newspaper reporting on an incident in which Nikken had a late-night dispute with prostitutes over payment and police were called in. The incident, now referred to as the "Seattle Incident," occurred in Seattle where Nikken was visiting for religious purposes in 1963. The Tokyo District Court in March 2000 dismissed Nichiren Shoshu and Taisekiji's suit, concluding that "it is obvious that the credibility of [Nikken] Abe's statements is extremely low" and "we must say that the facts reported [in Soka Gakkai publications and speeches] on this incident are true."

In January 2002, on the strong recommendation of the Tokyo High Court, Nichiren Shoshu and Taisekiji completely withdrew their libel claim and settled the case with the defendants, including Soka Gakkai. The decision rendered by the Tokyo District Court remains intact. "The reason why Soka Gakkai reported this incident was to question Nikken Abe's qualification for the office of high priest... Among the revelations of [Nikken] Abe's questionable conduct was... [the] account of the Seattle incident."--Soka Gakkai Chief Defense Attorney Morio Miyahara [1]

[Note: May 20, 2004 exchange rate used throughout. Amounts have been rounded for ease of comprehension.]

[1] "On the Closure to the Seattle Incident Case: Statement by Soka Gakkai Chief Defense Attorney Morio Miyahara," an article appearing in the Seikyo Shimbun, February 1, 2002. [trans.]