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U.N. rapporteur urges Japan to consider law banning hate speech

by

Staff Writer

Japan should enact a law banning hate speech to protect the nation’s ethnic minorities, according to a United Nations expert who said such a change would not impact freedom of speech.

“The international law makes it quite clear that in certain circumstances (hate speech) must be prohibited,” Rita Izsak, a U.N. special rapporteur on minority issues, said at a symposium held in Tokyo late last month.

Izsak claimed restricting hate speech with penal sanctions can be justified as long as it is legitimate and such curbs are necessary and proportionate to protect the self-esteem of targeted groups.

“If hate incidents are not tackled quickly and effectively, targeted groups may experience permanent damage to their self-esteem and sense of belonging within their societies,” she warned. “If you look at genocide . . . the first stop in this line is always hate speech.”

Special rapporteurs are independent human rights advocates appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council (OHCHR). As of last March, 55 mandates had been assigned by the U.N. to investigate human rights violations, report on situations, and give advice to countries where human rights problems exist.

In Spain, for example, people who provoke discrimination against others face one to three years in prison. Canada also has sanctions against perpetrators of hate speech, including up to five years in prison for severe offenses, Izsak said.

Japan has received numerous recommendations from the international community to restrict hate speech.

In August 2014, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged Japan to take “appropriate steps to revise its legislation” with penal sanctions to address the spread of hate speech against minority groups, particularly Korean residents in Japan.

Given such notices, the Justice Ministry has campaigned to raise public awareness of issues surrounding hate speech through such means as posters and online advertisements. But the nation has fallen short of establishing a law to restrict hate speech, citing the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression.

To move forward, Izsak said Japan should establish an independent human rights institution to collect demographic data on minority groups, including religious affiliations and ethnic backgrounds, in order to weigh strategies to help them.

“Data is, as I understand, very much missing in Japan,” she said, adding such institutions can also function as a channel for minority groups to voice complaints and report to the government.

Aside from creating a legal framework, Izsak said Japan should overhaul its educational curriculum to teach the history of minority groups.

“There is a large number of Korean descendants here — some of them are naturalized, some of them are Korean nationals,” she said. “But it’s very difficult for me to accept that there is so little — if sometimes close to zero — discussion about who they are.”

The lack of education about ethnic minorities, she claimed, has led to a society that tolerates hate speech and to an unfair state system that disadvantages them.

“They (Koreans in Japan) are excluded from participation in political life. They cannot vote. They cannot work for the government,” she said. “For me, this is one of the biggest differences if I compare the situation here to other countries.”

Izsak’s visit to Japan in January was not in her official capacity because, although she had asked to be formally invited by the Japanese government, she was not. As a result, she needs to come back to conduct comprehensive research to be reported to OHCHR about the situation of hate speech here.

“Why I choose to write this report on that topic is exactly because of the individual complaints I received from minority victims of hate speech and hate crime who felt threatened, who felt that they were degraded, put in an inferior position, and who were afraid that the stigmatization may threaten their community in the long term,” she said.”I am here to protect (ethnic minorities).”

  • http://sanfernandocurt.com/ SanFernandoCurt

    I urge Japan to ignore ‘wisdom’ of UN ‘rackoteurs’. ‘Hate speech’ bans are censorship – period.

  • Blair

    “She needs to come back to conduct comprehensive research to be reported to the OHCHR about the situation of hate speech here.” I suggest she save the OHCHR the cost of airfare and just get a subscription to the JT online

  • sonofseawolf

    Hi zionist zombies

    What about anti white hate speech leading to genocide of European and north american whites mr. UN rapporteur?

    Boycott Lexmark

    Protect yourself at all times 14 5

  • Steve Jackman

    While I agree that Japan needs to enact laws against hate speech, such laws will do little to change the widespread racism, insularity and parochial thinking, racial discrimination and xenophobia which are so ingrained and widespread in Japanese society (the worst among developed countries).

    What is even more important is that Japan enact laws against racial discrimination, as the U.N. has repeatedly asked Japan to do. Japan is currently one of the only developed countries to not have any such laws, so racial discrimination is perfectly legal and state-sanctioned here. This is why non-Japanese are constantly discriminared against in employment, housing, judicial system, education and access to businesses. There is blatant disregard of the civil and human rights of non-Japanese residents of Japan, which is a total disgrace given the modern facade Japan likes to present to the outside world.

  • Steve Jackman

    While I agree that Japan needs to enact laws against hate speech, such laws will do little to change the widespread racism, insularity and parochial thinking, racial discrimination and xenophobia which are so ingrained and widespread in Japanese society (the worst among developed countries).

    What is even more important is that Japan enact laws against racial discrimination, as the U.N. has repeatedly asked Japan to do. Japan is currently one of the only developed countries to not have any such laws, so racial discrimination is perfectly legal and state-sanctioned here. This is why non-Japanese are constantly discriminared against in employment, housing, judicial system, education and access to businesses. There is blatant disregard of the civil and human rights of non-Japanese residents of Japan, which is a total disgrace given the modern facade Japan likes to present to the outside world.

  • Matt Watson

    Let me get this right…

    TL;DR

    Hate Speech = Genocide

    Seriously? I know that I have a chip on my shoulder about freedom of speech, and I am vary against banning people form saying anything.

    The only way to effectively combat ignorance is with education and enlightenment. If you just put a gag order on them or lock these ‘haters’ up, you are just going to do more harm than good.

    I think that the ‘minorities’ might have thicker skin than you give them credit.

  • jam awns

    Does US green-card holder have right to vote?

    Today’s Japanese hated emotion against Korean has been born by anti-Japan ideology and consecutive Japan discount campaign such as Sea of Japan, Takeshima, and statue of comfort women.
    Essential real problem is anti-Japan ideology fabricated by Korean and Korean Government supported by communists in Japan. The faked idea as tool for brainwashing BOTH Korean and Japanese has abused even at school and mass-media to hold strong hated emotion against anything Japan.
    Most lies which are used as influential method among Zainichi issues are below.
    (lie 1) Korean residents in Japan were forced to migrated from Korea to Japan during Japan-Korea Annexation.
    (lie 2) Korean name were forced to rename into Japanese style.
    (lie 3) Korean language was abolished by Imperial Japan.
    (true 1) All the Korean residents other than criminals has lived in Japan by their own will. NO EXCEPTION.
    On Feb. 1955, JPN Mofa issued researching result about the reason of immigration and stay asking 610,000 Korean residents in Japan when registering them. Only 245 requisition workers staying in Japan existed and even they stayed in Japan by their own will.
    (true 2) Korean name were maintained. Japanese style name were allowed to use as well. NO RENAME.
    Imperial Japan emancipated slaves consisting 30% of Korean population during Yi chosen era who did not have family name. Of them, women did not have even first name such as dog and livelihood. Imperial Japan recommended them to create own family name. Japanese style name was allowed as well.
    (true 3) Imperial Japan built over 5,000 primary schools and over 1,000 schools such as universities, then prepared, organized and outreached Hangul or Korean language resulting raised literacy rate in Korea from 4% in 1910 to above 61% in 1944.

  • jam awns

    On 27 January 2014, EU Commission calls on Member States to criminalise denial of crimes against humanity.
    Everyday must be the Holocaust Remembrance day to keep and raise practical morale for humanity and mutual happiness. Without such ideal, activities and laws, hate crimes would prevail in the world.
    In my opinion, the law punishing deniers can help humanity against racism, xenophobia and genocide only under the conditions after EU traces the below process. Otherwise fingerpointing alleged deniers creates racism and ethnic hate activities each other forever and EU just become everybody never believe everybody society. After the process below, peaceful generation with new insight will come beyond every repeating tragedy.
    Each of EU countries must be enough tough to very face on the past tragedies (and if possible on the current tragedies, too) not only in EU but also in colonies and Palestine,
    Without thoroughly oppresses any dissenting voices,
    Without inflicting cruel and inhuman treatments on opponents,
    Without masquerading victims,
    Without forged excuses,
    Without scapegoat,
    Without taboo to discuss on academic and non academic boards under each country has each history rule,
    With opening topic to public for academic reasons,
    With the position of victimizer,
    With the much stronger law to punish perjuries and calumnies of finger pointers than to punish deniers.
    Victim must not be specific groups pursuing for profit from business of discrimination.
    Victim must be public calm or peaceful life as primary, and human dignity as secondary.

  • jam awns

    On 27 January 2014, EU Commission calls on Member States to criminalise denial of crimes against humanity.
    Everyday must be the Holocaust Remembrance day to keep and raise practical morale for humanity and mutual happiness. Without such ideal, activities and laws, hate crimes would prevail in the world.
    In my opinion, the law punishing deniers can help humanity against racism, xenophobia and genocide only under the conditions after EU traces the below process. Otherwise fingerpointing alleged deniers creates racism and ethnic hate activities each other forever and EU just become everybody never believe everybody society. After the process below, peaceful generation with new insight will come beyond every repeating tragedy.
    Each of EU countries must be enough tough to very face on the past tragedies (and if possible on the current tragedies, too) not only in EU but also in colonies and Palestine,
    Without thoroughly oppresses any dissenting voices,
    Without inflicting cruel and inhuman treatments on opponents,
    Without masquerading victims,
    Without forged excuses,
    Without scapegoat,
    Without taboo to discuss on academic and non academic boards under each country has each history rule,
    With opening topic to public for academic reasons,
    With the position of victimizer,
    With the much stronger law to punish perjuries and calumnies of finger pointers than to punish deniers.
    Victim must not be specific groups pursuing for profit from business of discrimination.
    Victim must be public calm or peaceful life as primary, and human dignity as secondary.