OSAKA – The Osaka District Court sentenced a nationalist to a year in prison Tuesday over a hate campaign against a pharmaceutical firm which had a South Korean actress as its public face.
Hitoshi Nishimura, 44, and three other men barged into the headquarters of Rohto Pharmaceutical in the city of Osaka in March and angrily demanded to know why the company was using Kim Tae Hee in its commercials, the court found.
Nishimura claimed Kim was an anti-Japanese activist who has been involved in a campaign asserting South Korea’s sovereignty over Takeshima, the disputed islets in the Sea of Japan controlled by South Korea.
In footage of the confrontation posted on the Internet, Nishimura rails against company officials and claims to represent “angry Japanese throughout the country.”
Nishimura will be imprisoned for one year for using threatening behavior, according to the ruling. The website of a rightwing group to which he is affiliated said he plans to appeal.
No information was given on the other three men involved.
Incidents of anti-Korean harassment by rightwingers reportedly rose after South Korean President Lee Myung Bak visited Takeshima in August.
Small but vocal campaigns have been organized against broadcasters that show South Korean dramas.
NHK’s decision not to feature any South Korean singers during its “Kohaku” yearend music program is generally linked with the deteriorating bilateral ties, although the popularity of the K-Pop music, led by such groups as Girls’ Generation and KARA, is still huge in Japan.