National / Crime & Legal

Man who posted anti-Korean rally video sues Osaka mayor after his username was released under an ordinance against hate speech

Kyodo

A man who had posted a video of a rally against Korean residents on the internet sued Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura on Monday, arguing the city’s ordinance against hate speech to deter racist propaganda violates freedom of speech.

The plaintiff, whose username on an internet video posting site has been made public by the city in line with the ordinance, filed the lawsuit with the Osaka District Court against Yoshimura, demanding the local government not publicize his name even if it’s already widely known.

The city ordinance came into force in July 2016 as the first local-level ordinance in Japan to set concrete procedures to prevent hate speech.

The ordinance enables the city to disclose on its website the names of groups or individuals engaging in hate speech.

The municipal government has so far recognized four online videos as expressions of hate speech and publicized the usernames of the content creators. It has not made public the real names of posters because the website operators did not agree to disclose them.

The man, in his 40s, posted the video of a rally that took place in Osaka in February 2013. The city recognized the video as hate speech in June 2017, according to his written petition filed with the court.

The lawsuit says the plaintiff argues that the video has an aspect of political relevance in relation to Japanese-South Korean diplomacy and that publicizing the names of video posters infringes on privacy and freedom of speech under the Constitution.

The city government declined to comment, saying it has not received the written petition.

The city has designated videos as hate speech for showing footage of rallies against Korean residents of Japan under the ordinance. The videos showed people making various bigoted remarks against Koreans.

At the national level, a law to deter hate speech cleared the Diet in May 2016.

In the period from June 3, 2016, when the legislation took effect, through the end of April 2017, police across Japan detected 35 demonstrations involving hate speech, compared with 61 in the same period the year before, according to the National Police Agency.