A Tokyo court has ordered that Google remove any results linked to the arrest of a man, after a judge ruled that he deserves to rebuild his life ‘unhindered’ by online records of his criminal history.

Citing the right to be forgotten, the Saitma district court demanded the removal of all personal information online related to the conviction. While the decision was made back in December, the case has only recently been revealed publicly following the discovery of leaked court papers.

The news is expected to spark controversy in Japan over whether legal authorities should have the power to resolve an individual’s right to privacy, in the case of a crime committed in the past. The question remains if freedom of information and the public’s right to know should remain in tact.

Judge Hisaki Kobayashi argued that, dependent on the nature of the crime, an individual should be able to go through a fair rehabilitation process, which would include a clean sheet on their online records after a certain amount of time has passed.

“Criminals who were exposed to the public due to media reports of their arrest are entitled to the benefit of having their private life respected and their rehabilitation unhindered,” said Kobayashi, according to local Japanese reports. He added that without this protection it would be extremely hard for an individual to lead a normal life.

In this case, the unnamed man had requested that information from more than three years ago, related to his child prostitution and pornography crimes (for which he was fined 500,000 yen – approx. £3,170), be removed from Google’s results. He complained that whenever his name or address is typed into the search bar, the case appears.

While the man’s record no longer appears in the search results, Google has still appealed against the ruling in the high court.