April 13, 1998

Mr. Koichi Kato
Liberal Democratic Party

We are writing, as the legal representatives of Soka Gakkai, to protest in the strongest terms, the articles detailed below, which were carried in Jiyu Shimpo, the official publication of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Beginning with the two-week combined issue of January 2/9, 1996, Jiyu Shimpo carried a series of articles by Mr. Kunio Naito and other writers under the title "Watching the New Frontier Party = Soka Gakkai." These articles contained much that must be termed of a grievously libelous nature.

Especially egregious were the four articles that concerned malicious and spurious fabrications, which Mr. and Mrs. Junko Nobuhira had directed at Mr. Daisaku Ikeda, honorary president of Soka Gakkai. The content of these articles was not only entirely groundless; the style in which they were written was vulgar and degrading. As a result, Mr. Ikeda's rights were violated and his reputation sustained grave injury.

It should be noted that the Nobuhiras were dismissed from their positions within Soka Gakkai when it came to light that they had abused their position as leaders in the Hakodate [a city in Hokkaido] area to borrow large sums of money from a number of Soka Gakkai members. To date Mr. Nobuhira has been ordered by Japanese courts to repay a total of more than 50 million yen (approx. US$450,000) in such loans, with a number of other cases outstanding.

Resentful of their dismissal, the Nobuhiras began to spread defamatory allegations about Soka Gakkai. This behavior culminated in an article by Mrs. Nobuhira carried in the February 22, 1996 issue of the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho, which was filled with baseless fabrications. The Nobuhiras then brought a civil suit against Mr. Ikeda in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to misuse the legal system in order to manufacture scandal and damage Mr. Ikeda's reputation.

In the civil suit proceedings to date, whenever the Nobuhira's allegations have been refuted or they have been confronted with counter-evidence, or when concrete details of the allegations have been sought, they and their representatives have become increasingly vague regarding the dates and venues of the alleged incidents. In sum, they have been unable to offer any factual evidence; their behavior has been entirely at odds with their contention that the alleged incidents in fact occurred.

As the legal representatives of Soka Gakkai, we have made the farcical nature of this suit clear, presenting evidence, in the form of tape recordings, to back that claim. We have further urged that for those allegations to which the statute of limitations applies, separate judgment should be made.

The court has fully supported our claims, and has agreed to issue separate judgments for the different claims. This decision was a very natural one in light of the particulars of the case as detailed above. It also suggests that the court has, from the exchanges between the parties to the suit, both in person and in writing, come to understand the essential nature of this suit; that is, the falseness and unreasonableness of the Nobuhiras' claims.

The court was scheduled to render its decision on December 16, 1997. Immediately prior to the scheduled judgment, however, on December 12, the Nobuhiras' lawyers, in what was clearly a delaying tactic, challenged the fitness of the presiding judge to hear the case. Following the resulting delay, the Nobuhiras' motion was dismissed by the Tokyo District Court on February 2, 1998; their protest of this decision was likewise dismissed on April 6, 1998, clearing the way for a substantive ruling on this case in the near future.

It is against this background that the Liberal Democratic Party carried four separate articles on this subject in Jiyu Shimpo without having made any effort to confirm the veracity, or lack thereof, of the claims. Further, members of your Party introduced in parliamentary debate Mrs. Nobuhira's fabrications first carried in the Shukan Shincho article. Your party also purchased fliers concerning this spurious suit written by Mr. Masatomo Yamazaki and others, distributing these throughout Japan. In these and other ways, you aggravated the libel and infringement of civil rights suffered by our members and honorary president.

The contents of Mrs. Nobuhira's original article and the subsequent civil suit were highly dubious; a reasonable person could easily determine their lack of substance and falseness. Further, Soka Gakkai immediately made public counter-evidence and advanced arguments demonstrating the baselessness of these allegations. Had your Party conducted even a minimal factual investigation before printing the above-mentioned articles in Jiyu Shimpo, the exercise of common-sense judgment would have made clear the actual nature of this case.

Therefore, Soka Gakkai protests, in the strongest possible terms, the Liberal Democratic Party's decision to carry these articles and, in light of their evidently fallacious content, seeks an immediate retraction and apology, to be carried in the pages of Jiyu Shimpo.

Yorio Yahiro
Hiromitsu Fukushima
Attorneys for Soka Gakkai