Lawmakers mull submitting bill to fight hate speech


Lawmakers from several parties are considering legislation to fight hate speech, according to informed sources.

They have come up with a draft that would ban discriminatory speech and behavior on the grounds of race and other characteristics.

In its current form, the bill would provide for no penalties against offenders.

“By making hate speech illegal, it will create an atmosphere in which such behavior is not socially allowed,” a representative of the group said.

The lawmakers intend to seek cooperation from the ruling and opposition parties to submit the bill during the current extraordinary Diet session.

The group is comprised of members from the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party), the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, as well as Komeito, the junior member of the ruling coalition.

The lawmakers started discussions on a new bill last spring, when hate-speech rallies by the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai came to be recognized as a social issue.

The draft provides for support by the central and local governments for Internet service providers’ voluntary efforts to restrict discriminatory expressions.

It would create a new panel under the Cabinet Office that would propose and advise the prime minister on measures to prevent racial discrimination.

DPJ Policy Research Committee head Tetsuro Fukuyama called last week for cooperation from other opposition parties for the bill.

Separately, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party task force that has discussed countermeasures against hate speech will consider whether a bill is necessary.

  • Steve Jackman

    Japan needs to pass a comprehensive law against racial discrimination, not just against hate speech, as the United Nations has repeatedly urged Japan to do. Things for racial minorities and foreign residents will not improve in Japan, which is the last bastion of state-sanctioned racial discrimination among developed countries, unless it passes a law against racial discrimination.

  • ろびい

    You have to understand that it is not xenophobia.
    Object of Japanese anger is restricted to Korean.
    Koreans have pretended victims of slavery despite they were illegal immigrants.
    And they have enjoyed the privilege.
    This is not hate speech.
    This is accusation of wrongdoing

    • Steve Jackman

      Japanese xenophobia, racism and discrimination is not limited to hate speech or to Koreans only. In fact, it affects racial minorities and foreigners of all countries living in Japan.

      • ろびい

        You are clearly wrong.
        Hate speech laws are not meant to help the weak.
        In Japan, this law is intended to obscure the fraud of Korean.
        Brazilian and Filipino and Peruvian and Nigerians will not be saved.

      • phu

        Finally, the comic relief has arrived!

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Utterly meaningless nonsense. Japan fails yet again.

  • Oliver Mackie

    It’s good that this is happening, quite soon after the issue has arisen. Japan, like other economically developed countries before it, starting to tackle things at their own pace, as attitudes amongst the population change, and domestic politics with it. Such moves will certainly not do much to reduce the number of right-wing extremists in the country (approximately 2,000, and per capita approximately one tenth of the amount in Germany), such people exist whatever laws exist, but it will, as the article says, serve notice that it is officially publically unacceptable.

    • phu

      “Quite soon after the issue has arisen” seems to be informed by the recency of the UN report. It’s been an issue for quite a long time; that it hasn’t been addressed in a meaningful way yet (keep in mind, this is just talk, and until we see real legislation and enforcement, that’s all you should expect) is a bad sign, as you can be sure the government was aware of the discrimination problem, but it wasn’t their problem, and so it was not addressed.

      • Oliver Mackie

        The article states, “The lawmakers started discussions on a new bill last spring, when hate-speech rallies by the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai came to be recognized as a social issue.”

        These marches are new phenomena, mainly in response to the firing of missiles towards Japan.

        Yes, we will have to wait and see exactly what happens with the law, but the issue was taken up, is being examined, and proposals will be made. No, people shouting on the streets won’t be arrested, but it seems to be a move to enable providers of digital services to be able to prevent and delete such language. This will likely get rid of the majority of cases, which are done using such media. The use of postal and telephone threats is already illegal and enforced, as witnessed by the arrest of the man in connection with the Hokkaido affair.

  • Scott Reynolds

    I wonder if I’m the only one here who finds this proposed law extremely worrisome. Who is to define what constitutes “hate speech”? It doesn’t take too much of an imaginative stretch to see that many of the comments appearing in this very forum could be considered to be “hate speech” by some people. The anti-Korean rallies are absolutely revolting, but it seems to me they could be prevented through the application of existing laws, such as the law against obstruction of business activity. I think the idea of hate speech laws is a serious mistake that could easily lead to unintended consequences.

    • Paul Johnny Lynn

      Laws may be on the books, but if there aren’t used, what use are they? Like the law that prevents excessive noise, I still hear politicians, right-wing hate trucks, bosozoku, pre-dawn fireworks and housing construction around my place; all at troublesome volume, and not a cop in sight.

  • Ron NJ

    I’d rather have a law that prevents people from refusing to rent housing to me because of my race/nationality/ethnicity than yet another BS attempt to dodge responsibility that was only brought to light in the first place because of “gaiatsu”. Thanks for reminding me that I don’t matter in the slightest, Japan!