Photo/IllutrationKiichi Okaguchi, a Tokyo High Court judge, speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on Sept. 11 after a hearing at the Supreme Court. (Jin Nishioka)

A Tokyo High Court judge is fighting disciplinary measures after he tweeted on an abandoned dog trial on which he is accused of "hurting" the plaintiff's feelings.

The Grand Bench of the Supreme Court on Sept. 11 held a rare “bungen-saiban,” or a trial on disciplinary measures or dismissal of a judge, regarding a message posted by Judge Kiichi Okaguchi on Twitter.

In the trial, which was closed to the public, the Tokyo High Court demanded disciplinary measures against Okaguchi, 52.

In response, Okaguchi argued that if measures are imposed on him, the act will infringe on the freedom of expression and threaten the independence of court judges.

“I don’t know why I’m here. I only tweeted," Okaguchi said at a news conference after the hearing at the Supreme Court. "The whole idea of ‘freedom of expression’ will wither (if I'm disciplined). I think that the request (for disciplinary measures) is unreasonable.”

It is the first time in Japan that a bungen-saiban has been held concerning a posting on Twitter.

Okaguchi posted the message in question in May. The tweet was related to a trial in which the ownership rights to an abandoned dog was disputed between the former owner and the person who took it home. He was not the judge for the trial.

In his posting, he provided a link to an Internet article on the trial and wrote, “After a person took home a dog, which had been abandoned in a park, the former owner appeared and said, ‘Please return it to me.’ What? You abandoned this dog, didn’t you? In spite of the fact that you left it where it was for as many as three months ... The result of the trial was ... .”

The Tokyo High Court said that it received a complaint from the dog's former owner, who was the plaintiff in the trial.

The high court concluded that despite the fact that Okaguchi is a court judge, he unilaterally criticized the person who was directly involved in the trial, and harmed the person without confirming the contents of the ruling and by using expressions poking fun at the person.

Based on the judgment, the high court asked the Supreme Court to impose disciplinary measures on Okaguchi in July.

In response, Okaguchi said that the contents of the posting are not his opinion as a judge. He also claimed that there is no direct evidence that the feelings of the person were harmed.

He said that since the reasons for the high court’s request are vague, he can’t offer sufficient explanations and a defense.

Okaguchi also submitted an opinion written by Sota Kimura, professor of the Constitution at Tokyo Metropolitan University, which read, “If the request is approved, it will have a serious withering effect on theses and essays made public by court judges and will also become a threat to their activities as court judges.”

The Supreme Court will weigh issuing an admonitory warning or imposing a fine of 10,000 yen (about $90) on Okaguchi.

The Tokyo High Court and Okaguchi will submit additional arguments and evidence by Sept. 28. After examining them, the top court will issue its judgment.