• Jiji, Kyodo

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The Tokyo High Court has ordered a man from Oita Prefecture to pay ¥1.3 million in damages for posting discriminatory comments about Koreans living in Japan on his blog.

The amount was raised from the ¥910,000 ordered by the Kawasaki branch of the Yokohama District Court.

Neo Nakane, the plaintiff in a discrimination case, speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday. | KYODO
Neo Nakane, the plaintiff in a discrimination case, speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday. | KYODO

Neo Nakane, an 18-year-old university student from Kanagawa whose family members are ethnic Koreans living in Japan, sought ¥3 million in damages from the Oita man in his 60s, claiming that his ethnic identify was damaged by the man’s online comments.

“The posted comments were extremely vicious,” presiding Judge Yukio Shirai said when handing down the ruling on Wednesday.

The damages amount, of which ¥1 million is compensation for mental suffering, is unusually high for comments made via a single post, according to a lawyer for the plaintiff.

As the latest ruling said racial discrimination itself is illegal, it is expected to have a deterrent effect on hate speech, the lawyer said.

According to the ruling and other sources, in January 2018 a local newspaper posted an article online about the plaintiff, then in his third year of junior high school, participating in an event in which students performed raps delivering peaceful messages. The man from Oita quoted the article on an anonymous blog he opened and posted a comment saying, “They gloss over their appearances and use names to disguise themselves.” Another posted comment said, “They are, so to speak, malignant alien parasite species.”

Shirai said what the man posted on his blog are unjustifiable, discriminatory comments about Koreans living in Japan. “They constitute racial discrimination,” the presiding judge said, recognizing that the post unlawfully infringed on the plaintiff’s personal rights.

The blog post seriously harmed the plaintiff’s self-esteem, the judge also said.

After the latest ruling, Nakane told a news conference: “I was really hurt. We need a law that puts an end to hate crimes.”

The lawsuit was filed after the plaintiff identified the man who posted the comments by asking the internet service provider involved to disclose identification information.

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