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Top court finalizes ruling against anti-Korean group’s hate speech

Kyodo

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal from a group of anti-Korean activists that used hate speech against a Korean school in Kyoto.

The decision finalizes a high court ruling ordering the group to pay some ¥12 million in damages to the school’s operator and banning it from demonstrating near the school, court officials said Wednesday.

The decision, dated Tuesday, was issued by the top court’s No. 3 Petty Bench, a panel of five justices headed by Toshimitsu Yamasaki. It centered on a July ruling by the Osaka High Court, in which the Zaitokukai group claimed it was protesting what it says are privileges enjoyed by Korean residents in Japan.

According to the high court ruling, members of the group staged anti-Korean demonstrations near the pro-Pyongyang elementary school in Kyoto’s Minami Ward on three occasions between 2009 and 2010, chanting anti-Korean slogans via loudspeakers. The slogans included calls to close Korean schools in Japan, labeling their pupils the “children of spies.”

The group posted video footage of their demonstrations online.

In October 2013, the Kyoto District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff in the case, school operator Kyoto Chosen Gakuen, determining that Zaitokukai intended to spread anti-Korean sentiment among the Japanese people and that its activities constituted “racial discrimination” as defined by an international convention ratified by Japan.

In its decision last July, the Osaka High Court upheld the ruling and said Zaitokukai members interfered with the school operator providing ethnic education, and dismissed the group’s assertion that its demonstrations were a matter of freedom of assembly and expression.

Zaitokukai head Yasuhiro Yagi responded to the ruling through a lawyer, saying the court had ignored freedom of political speech.

Hundreds of thousands of people with Korean backgrounds and permanent resident status live in Japan.

  • jeff rice

    I only wish I could have been outside that School when those slimy Cowards had their “demonstration”.

  • GBR48

    All racists are low-life, but only the most despicable scum target children.

    • Lulz Cat

      Things get confusing when your race and nationality go by the same name.

      They were protesting North Korean citizens at the grounds of a North Korean school over (Korean privilege in Japan). But I agree with your sentiment, shouldn’t this have been directed at the government then at not the children?

      That leads me to believe it’s an assimilation issue. There’s going to be a distrust of people who insist on continuing their cultural development and cultural association with an openly anti-Japanese enemy of Japan. Does it make sense that the Japanese government should help fund these types of places?

      I’ve heard Zainichi say things like they are Korean but “it is more convenient” to live in Japan. People who feel that way need to be deported ASAP. Embrace Japan or GTFO already.

  • samarkand

    As offensive as Zaitokukai is, and as disgusting as it is for them to be uttering their racist, xenophobic rants near a school, they should have the right to peaceful assembly and free speech just as anyone else would. Free speech is only meaningful when it includes speech you don’t like. One ruling against Zaitokukai may mean the next ruling prohibits peace marchers from assembling and speaking.

    Perhaps there’s room for tweaking laws on the use of powered loudspeakers — the duration of their use, decibel level, time of day, etc. — but it would have to be done carefully, and affect everyone equally.

    • KenjiAd

      Free speech is only meaningful when it includes speech you don’t like.

      Yes.

      On the other hand, Japan is different from a country like America in that it is predominantly made up of ethnic Japanese. Threat posed by hate speech tends to be magnified, real or perceived, if the target is not a significant minority but a tiny minority. There are only 500 thousands of Zainichi’s (out of the population of 120 millions).

      Perhaps even more importantly, Japan, like other East Asian countries, is a strongly ethnocentric country where hate speech based on ethnicity could have more resonance among the general public. This point should not be taken lightly. The risk that hate speech could actually incite a real violence can be much higher in Japan than, say, in America.

      So while I do agree with the general spirit of your post, I believe that special circumstances of Japan should be considered as well. I think that some sort of hate-speech regulation is warranted.