The Japan Times
November 2, 2001

Family sues magazine over suicide

OITA (Kyodo) The family of a renowned archaeologist who committed suicide after a magazine alleged he fabricated excavation results filed a damages suit Thursday, seeking ¥55 million from the magazine's publisher and chief editor.

The family of Mitsuo Kagawa, a Beppu University professor emeritus who committed suicide in March, filed the, suit with the Oita District Court against Bungeishunju Ltd., Seigo Kimata, Shukan Bunshun's chief editor, and the reporter who wrote the article, seeking compensation and a published apology for defamation.

According to the suit, the weekly magazine ran stories on four occasions between January and March saying Kagawa was suspected of fabricating finds at the Hijiridaki Cave site in the village of Honjo, Oita Prefecture.

The suit says Kagawa suffered mental trauma from the allegations and that the family members also suffered.

Kagawa led a survey in 1952 that dated Hijiridaki Cave to the Old Stone Age. However, in June this year an academic research team said the survey's claim could not be confirmed following a review conducted in 1999.

Kagawa committed suicide on March 9 in his home in the town of Hinode, Oita Prefecture, leaving a note saying that his death was to protest the allegations. He was 78. The family argues that even after Kagawa's suicide, the magazine ran an article that they said offended his relatives.

Hiroshi Kagawa, the eldest son of the scholar, said the family is trying to restore the father's honor. He also indicated that the family had preferred a negotiated settlement with the magazine. They said they wanted the publisher to explain the allegations in the articles.

Kimata of Shukan Bunshun said he does not understand why Kagawa's family is suing the magazine, as its articles did not specifically accuse the professor of being responsible or slander him.