In July 1994, a Soka Gakkai member in Hokkaido, Mr. Nobuyuki Shirayama, was accused of intentionally killing a Nichiren Shoshu priest in a premeditated traffic accident. Accusations were made in a tabloid article, in advertisements promoting the tabloid and even in a televised Japanese Diet session. It took Mr. Shirayama two years before he could clear his name after winning a libel suit against the publisher. [See Mainichi Shimbun story dated March 26, 1998.]
The Nichiren Shoshu priest was fatally injured when his car drifted into the opposing traffic lane and collided head-on with a truck driven by Mr. Shirayama, who happened to be a Soka Gakkai member.
In its September 1, 1994, issue, the weekly tabloid Shukan Shincho magazine claimed that the priest was murdered by a Soka Gakkai member. However the routine police investigation and the insurance company involved found that the priest had caused the collision and Mr. Shirayama was innocent.
A SMEAR CAMPAIGN
At a time when Japan's ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was working with anti-Soka Gakkai journalist Masao Okkotsu and others to mount a politically-motivated smear campaign against Soka Gakkai, a supporter of then opposition party Komeito, an LDP Diet member raised the Shukan Shincho article in a televised parliamentary debate, causing great damage to Mr. Shirayama's reputation. Mr. Shirayama filed a libel suit against Shinchosha, publisher of the magazine and in December 1996 he was awarded 1.1 million yen (approx. US$10,000) in damages.
The court criticized the way Shukan Shincho had researched this story, stating that its research had been conducted in accordance with the predetermined course of its story. The publisher's appeals to the High Court and Supreme Court were rejected.
[Note: May 20, 2004 exchange rate used throughout. Amounts have been rounded for ease of comprehension.]
 Judgment of the Sapporo High Court, Chief Judge Masayoshi Seto, in Case No. 1995-wa-1598; Claim for Damages; Nobuyuki Shirayama vs. Shinchosha; Decision delivered September 25, 1997.
[RETURN TO TEXT]