Two websites that posted videos showing hate speech against Korean residents have deleted the content at the request of the Justice Ministry, which is working to crack down on racist propaganda, sources close to the matter said Saturday.
It is the first time the ministry has managed to get such videos removed from websites.
But some critics have called for a cautious approach to such Internet censorship, expressing concern that it could restrict freedom of expression.
The videos in question showed members of the anti-Korean activist group Zaitokukai protesting in front of Korea University in Kodaira in western Tokyo in November 2009. Shouts of “Let’s kick out Koreans from Japan” could be heard on the video clips.
The videos were accessible on some websites, including the Japanese streaming website Nico Nico.
Some people contacted the ministry saying they felt violated by the material, prompting the deletion request. Although the ministry’s request was not legally binding, Nico Nico and another website removed the content, citing human rights infringements, the sources said.
The ministry has been stepping up its efforts to tackle hate speech, including the urging of a former leader of Zaitokukai in December to end such action.
Yoji Ochiai, a lawyer who is knowledgeable about Internet issues, said government action is needed “to help victims who cannot address the problems themselves” but such moves could lead to “intervention into the freedom of expression if they become excessive.”
Currently, it is not clear on what criteria the ministry bases its request for deleting videos online.
The ministry should exercise its authority “in a modest way,” Ochiai said.