• Kyodo


Yamagata Prefecture has turned down a request from anti-Korean activists to use a public building for a meeting.

The prefectural government said it “made the decision from a comprehensive standpoint based on administrative requirements for the facility and (the group) was not turned down because of its ideas or creed.”

The Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (roughly translated as the Society of Citizens against Granting Privileges to Koreans in Japan) tried on June 2 to reserve space for a June 30 meeting but was turned away by the reluctant administrators of the building, the group said.

The group was planning to host a lecture on the “comfort women,” the euphemism used for the tens of thousands of Korean and other women and girls Japan forced or coerced into providing sex for Imperial soldiers during the war.

When the group contacted a prefectural official in charge of the matter 10 days later, the official said they could not allow them to use the venue and had made the decision “objectively” based upon newspaper reports and other information.

The group is known for staging demonstrations in Tokyo and Osaka against ethnic Koreans residing in Japan and fighting with people opposed to their rallies. It said it is planning to petition the prefecture to have the decision revoked.

“As Japan has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, it was appropriate that Yamagata Prefecture, which is an administrative agency, did not provide a venue for a group promoting racism and xenophobia,” said Akira Maeda, a professor at Tokyo Zokei University who specializes in human rights issues.

But Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor of media law at Sophia University, said the prefecture’s response was problematic in terms of freedom of speech.

“It is dangerous and not desirable for society to leave room for administrative agencies and similar entities to provide for regulations concerning the nature of speech,” Tajima said.

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