The Kyoto District Court on Oct. 7 ordered an anti-Korean group, Zaitokukai, and activists to pay some ¥12 million in damages to a pro-Pyongyang school in Kyoto for disrupting classes by staging demonstrations in which they used hate speech against Koreans. The court also banned the street demonstrations within a 200-meter radius of the school.

This ruling, long overdue, is important because it has made it clear that speech that fans discrimination and hatred against a specific ethnic group is illegal. Zaitokukai has repeatedly conducted street demonstrations laced with hate speech in Tokyo's Shin Okubo district and Osaka's Tsuruhashi. It must take the ruling seriously and halt such activities.

The lawsuit was filed by Kyoto Chosen Daiichi Elementary School in Minami Ward, Kyoto. It requested ¥30 million in damages from Zaitokukai and associated activists, and a ban on their demonstrations. Discriminatory phrases were uttered through loudspeakers on three occasions when Zaitokukai activists demonstrated near the school from December 2009 to March 2010. The group claimed that its activities were a legitimate protest against the school's setting up a speech platform for a morning assembly in a park without first getting permission from the Kyoto city government, adding that its protests should fall under the purview of freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution. (The school principal was fined ¥100,000 in a separate case.)