Publisher Sued For Libel Over Claims Involving WW II Japanese Army

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Author Kenzaburo Oe and publishing firm Iwanami Shoten were sued for libel Friday over a passage in a book Oe wrote and in two other books that said two officers in the Imperial Japanese Army ordered residents in Okinawa Prefecture to commit mass suicide during World War II.

The suit was filed with the Osaka District Court by Yutaka Umezawa, 88, a former major in the Imperial Japanese Army, and the 72-year-old younger brother of Yoshitsugu Akamatsu, a deceased former captain in the army.

The two plaintiffs seek 20 million yen in damages and other fees and an injunction against the republication or sale of three books published by Iwanami Shoten.

According to the petition, many residents on Zamami and Tokashiki islands in Okinawa Prefecture committed mass suicide in March 1945, when U.S. forces landed on the islands.

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