Reviving the controversy that followed the novelist Yukio Mishima throughout his life, a Tokyo court has banned further publication of a memoir by a writer who says he had a homosexual relationship with him. The court ruled on Monday that the use of Mishima’s letters represented copyright infringement.
In its decision, which could have far-reaching consequences for Japanese publishing, the court held that Mishima’s letters to Jiro Fukushima were protected under the country’s copyright laws and could not be used without permission of Mishima’s estate. Mr. Fukushima and his publisher, Bungei Shunju Ltd., one of Japan’s largest producers of books and magazines, were ordered to pay $47,000 in damages to the plaintiffs, Mishima’s son and daughter.
Mishima, perhaps Japan’s most widely known modern writer, committed ritual suicide by sword, or seppuku, at age 45 in 1970. His death was an act of protest after failing to persuade the country’s Self Defense Force to stage a coup d’etat and renounce the American-imposed postwar constitution that places a perpetual ban on aggressive military action by Japan.