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Kawasaki draws up nation’s first guidelines for eliminating hate speech

Kyodo

The Kawasaki Municipal Government presented on Friday draft guidelines aimed at eradicating hate speech in public spaces, the first effort of its kind in Japan.

According to the draft, Kawasaki authorities can reject or revoke permission to use facilities such as parks and community centers when they “recognize specific risks of unjust discriminatory acts or language based on objective facts.”

The guidelines stipulate that the municipal authorities can strike down a request or cancel permission to use public facilities if the activities planned would cause extreme trouble to people who use the areas or venues.

The municipal government tabled the draft proposal to an assembly committee. After soliciting public comment for one month, it plans to finalize the guidelines in November, with an eye to enforcing them from next March.

To ensure fairness and transparency in the city’s decisions, the proposal underlined the need for the Kawasaki government to seek in advance the opinion of a expert third-party panel to be established by the local authority.

According to a Justice Ministry survey,. 1,152 rallies were conducted by hate-speech groups nationwide from April 2012 to September 2015. In those demonstrations, Japanese far-right groups are often seen hurling racist abuse often targeted at minorities.

In June last year, about 20 participants at a rally against ethnic Koreans in Kawasaki were surrounded by hundreds of citizens voicing opposition to the vitriol being espoused, prompting the organizers to call it off.

Last December, the city’s human rights promotion body urged Kawasaki Mayor Norihiko Fukuda to draw up the guidelines and an ordinance to fight discrimination.