A Japanese court on Friday ordered a high court judge to pay 440,000 yen ($3,300) in damages after posting messages on social media that the bereaved family of a high school girl murdered in Tokyo found offensive.
Social media posts by Kiichi Okaguchi of the Sendai High Court were "thoughtless" and "inappropriate acts that violate duties imposed on an incumbent judge," said Presiding Judge Masahiko Kiyono at the Tokyo District Court in handing down the ruling.
Okaguchi, 56, is also being tried at the Judge Impeachment Court in Japan for the posts after a parliamentary committee for the prosecution of judges decided in 2021 to refer him.
He became the ninth judge ever to be referred to the impeachment court and the first over the expression of views.
According to the complaint filed to the Tokyo District Court, Okaguchi in 2017 posted on his personal Twitter account about the murder of the high school girl, saying a 17-year-old female was "mercilessly" murdered by a "man who has the propensity to be sexually aroused by watching a woman being strangled and agonized."
Almost two years after the tweet, he posted on Facebook that "the bereaved family has been brainwashed by the Tokyo High Court office and others to criticize me."
At trial, the girl's family demanded 1.65 million yen against Okaguchi, claiming that the posts "significantly lacked consideration for the sentiment of the bereaved family and the dignity of the victim and caused psychological pain."
Okaguchi refuted that, saying the posts "did not expose the victim to sexual curiosity."
At a hearing at the Judge Impeachment Court in November, the parliamentary committee said in its opening statements that Okaguchi continued to make posts despite repeated warnings by the Tokyo High Court and even after expressing regret over the posts.
At the impeachment court, Okaguchi is also accused of tweeting about a civil suit concerning dog ownership, in which he apparently blamed the original pet owner.