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Japan bar federation scraps warning to lawyer who tweeted nonpaying clients should 'die'

The Osaka Bar Association building (Mainichi/Akira Hattori)

OSAKA -- The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has annulled disciplinary action the Osaka Bar Association took against a 35-year-old lawyer over a tweet suggesting those who didn't pay attorney fees should die.

    The lawyer, belonging to the Osaka Bar Association, posted tweets in 2019 and 2020 including one saying, "People who are fine with not paying lawyers are the same as murderers." He also tweeted that he wanted those who failed to pay attorney fees to die, using Japanese internet slang resembling the kanji character for "die."

    The Osaka bar in March 2021 issued a warning to the lawyer on the grounds that the tweets were "disgraceful." The lawyer subsequently appealed to the JFBA's disciplinary committee to review the Osaka bar's decision.

    Pointing out that the lawyer's claim that clients who cheat attorney fees should not be tolerated is reasonable, the JFBA concluded, "Though the expression (used in the tweets) was thoughtless and improper, personal comments should be allowed extensively under freedom of expression," and annulled the warning. The JFBA's invalidation of the warning was dated May 17.

    The lawyer told the Mainichi Shimbun that he believed the invalidation was a "fair decision."

    (Japanese original by Kumiko Yasumoto, Osaka City News Department)

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