Kyodo, Sep. 9, 2002
TOKYO, Sept. 9 (Kyodo) — The Tokyo District Court has lodged a protest with a weekly magazine and its publisher for publishing secretly taken photographs of AUM Shinrikyo cult founder Shoko Asahara in its most recent issue, court officials said Monday.
The district court lodged the protest with the editorial department of Shukan (Weekly) Post and its publisher Shogakukan Inc.
The photos were published in its Sept. 20 issue, which hit the stands Monday, and the court has asked that the issue be recalled.
The court says the photos of the 47-year-old Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, were take illegally.
Japanese courts ban taking photos of courtroom proceedings. Mass media are allowed to take photographs or videos of trials only after the judges are seated and before the accused enters the courtroom.
According to the court, the magazine’s editor in chief told the court that the magazine thought it was meaningful to publish the photographs due to the importance of the case.
The magazine report says the photos were taken by a freelance photographer on June 21 and July 4 during the proceedings at the district court.
The magazine had published a photograph of Asahara taken during his first court hearing in April 1996. The publisher apologized for the publication to the court and issued an apology in a later edition, the court said.
The court said it will take the appropriate steps after closely looking into the case.
The AUM founder stands accused of masterminding the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, which killed 12 people and injured thousands, and a number of other crimes.
Another weekly newsmagazine ”Friday,” published by Kodansha Ltd. also carried a photograph of Asahara secretly taken during the court proceedings of the first hearings of his trial in 1996 and another photograph in 1998.
The district court lodged a protest with the major publisher and demanded a recall of the magazine, but Kodansha refused to do so.