Since the law aimed at curbing hate speech took effect a year ago, both the national government and local authorities have taken steps to combat the use of extremely offensive and discriminatory language against ethnic minorities in this country. It is important for community organizations and private-sector groups to join the efforts to enlighten people about why hate speech should not be tolerated.

Some concerned people have pointed out that the law is insufficient because it lacks teeth against those who continue to use hate speech. Lawmakers should respond to such calls for beefing up the measures.

The law defines hate speech as "openly announcing to the effect of harming the life, body, freedom, reputation or property of, or to significantly insult, persons originating from outside Japan with the objective of encouraging or inducing discriminatory feelings against such persons." It condemns discriminatory language against these people as "unforgivable." Offensive and derogatory speeches used in xenophobic rallies organized by groups harboring prejudices against Korean and Chinese residents of Japan prompted the Diet to enact the law. In view of the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution, however, the law does not prohibit hate speech or punish those who use such language in public rallies. Instead, it calls on local administrative authorities to carry out educational activities to eliminate hate speech and discriminatory behavior against foreign residents.