National

Anti-Korean hate speech rally called off in Kawasaki amid protests

Kyodo

An anti-Korean group called off a demonstration Sunday after about a dozen members of the group were surrounded by hundreds of people who rallied in opposition to the event in Kawasaki.

The group opposed to Koreans living in Japan was planning to hold the rally near a public park in the city’s Nakahara Ward between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The location was chosen after a district court and the city government denied the group permission to hold the demonstration in another ward last week.

Opposition protesters opposed to hate speech started gathering in the vicinity of the park before the rally started, encircling anti-Korean group members. The two sides scuffled, which prompted the original protest to be called off.

The park is located about 8 kilometers from an area in Kawasaki Ward that is home to a large ethnic Korean community.

According to the Kanagawa prefectural authorities, the group, headed by a man who is a resident of the city, was to originally march along public roads around the park after having received police approval on Friday in accordance with the road traffic laws governing the holding of such events.

About 10 to 50 people were expected to take part in the rally aimed at “purifying Japan.” The group has conducted a total of 13 anti-Korean speeches or demonstrations since 2013.

The police approval came after the Kanagawa branch of the Yokohama District Court handed down on Friday a provisional injunction that prohibited the group from holding demonstrations near the office of a social welfare corporation fighting ethnic discrimination in Kawasaki Ward.

Prior to the court decision, the Kawasaki city government on Monday turned down the group’s request to use two parks in the ward for a demonstration on Sunday.

The city’s decision came after the government enacted a law in May aimed at deterring hate speech.

But the law’s effectiveness remains in question as it lacks measures to ban or punish those who use discriminatory language over concerns that doing so would infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech.

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