Japanese court judge removed over controversial online posts

A court judge in Japan has been removed over controversial online comments he made. It is the eighth time a judge has been dismissed in the country and the first case in which personal remarks led to expulsion.

The Judge Impeachment Court at the Diet ruled on Wednesday that Okaguchi Kiichi of the Sendai High Court should be dismissed.

He was accused of repeatedly making inappropriate posts on social media, including about the family of a high school girl murdered in 2015.

During the trial, lawmakers chosen from both chambers served as judges and held 15 hearings. They reached the impeachment decision with a majority of over two-thirds.

In handing down the ruling, the court said Okaguchi's posts repeatedly harmed the bereaved family even though he did not intend to do so.

The court pointed out that social media involves a risk that posts can be interpreted in different ways from what the poster expects. It noted that Okaguchi should have considered that risk and avoided harming others.

The court said that even after protests from the family, Okaguchi continued to post comments without showing remorse. It said his posting of comments over a long period went beyond the bounds allowed for judges under freedom of expression.

The 58-year-old Okaguchi had indicated he would step down this month, when his term as a judge was due to expire. But he will not be able to work as an attorney because the ruling means he loses his qualification as a lawyer.