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  • JT: Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts and columnist Eric Johnston; why I doubt that will happen

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 21st, 2014

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    Hello Blog.  In the wake of last week’s shocking decision that NJ of any status have no automatic right to their paid-in social welfare benefits, here’s another push for increased protections for Japan’s minorities that looks unlikely in this current political climate to come to pass, despite both the court rulings and the gaiatsu pressure from overseas:

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    NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
    Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts
    Japan Times/JIJI JUL 16, 2014
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/16/national/social-issues/get-tough-hate-speech-u-n-experts/

    Japan came under pressure at a U.N. meeting Tuesday to do more to help stop hate speech that promotes discrimination by race or nationality.

    “According to information we received, there have been more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches in 2013, mainly in Korean neighborhoods in Tokyo,” Yuval Shany from Israel, one of the experts at the U.N. Human Rights Committee, said at the meeting in Geneva.

    Shany asked Japan whether it is considering adopting legislation to address hate and racist speech.

    Existing laws in Japan do not allow police to intervene to stop hate speech demonstrations, Shany said at the meeting held to review the civil and political rights situation in Japan.

    “It seems almost nothing has been done by the government to react to Japanese-only signs which have been posted in a number of places,” Shany said.

    Another committee member, Zonke Majodina from South Africa, asked if Japan has “plans to enact a national anti-discrimination law, for direct and indirect discrimination, applying to both public and private sectors, complying with international standards and ensuring equal protection to everyone.”

    Elsewhere in the meeting, committee members questioned whether human rights are protected in Japan under the country’s capital punishment system, as well as its system designed to provide equal employment opportunities for men and women.

    The review is scheduled to continue into Wednesday when it is expected to cover the issue of “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.

    This is the committee’s first review of Japan in six years. The committee is set to announce recommendations for improvement on July 24.

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    NATIONAL | VIEW FROM OSAKA
    Time for legislation to prevent spread of hate speech
    BY ERIC JOHNSTON, JUL 19, 2014
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/time-for-legislation-to-prevent-spread-of-hate-speech/

    On July 8, the Osaka High Court ruled that, yes, standing in front of a primary school while kids are in class, shouting through a megaphone that they and their parents are not human, and then vandalizing the school’s property, is legal discrimination.

    The decision against the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai for its actions at a pro-North Korean school in Kyoto is welcomed by all civilized people and will likely (unless the notoriously conservative Supreme Court hears the case) end one of the more high-profile hate speech cases seen in Kansai or elsewhere in Japan.

    However, the Kyoto incident is just one of many involving what some countries legally define, and ban, as hate speech. Yet Japan, citing freedom of expression, is reluctant to confront the issue.

    Given the official silence and unofficial tolerance, it’s hardly surprising that hate speech is on the rise, especially in Kansai:

    • In 2011, a Zaitokukai representative visited a Nara museum running a temporary exhibition on Japan’s occupation of Korea. He later showed up in front of the museum and hurled insults at people of “burakumin” (social outcast class) origin, since the museum also has a permanent exhibition on the buraku people. Thankfully, the man was forced to pay ¥1.5 million — not for making derogatory remarks against Koreans or buraku people, per se, but for “defamation of the museum.”

    • In a particularly shocking case, a 14-year-old girl in Osaka’s traditional Korean district of Tsuruhashi participated in a February 2013 anti-Korean demonstration by shouting through a megaphone that she wanted to kill all of the Koreans in the area.

    When comments by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto about Japan’s prewar “comfort women” system being necessary at the time were added to the mix a few months after the Tsuruhashi incident, Osaka found itself with a reputation both inside and outside of Japan as an intolerant city under mob rule, a place where misogynists, bigots and hate-mongers can say whatever they want without fear of social or legal reprisals.

    The good news is that, finally, more and more people in Osaka and the Kansai region are fighting back against the haters.

    Counter-demonstrations against Zaitokukai in particular are increasing. At the same time, there is a feeling among many here that, as Osaka and Korea have a deep ties, things will work themselves out.

    But that’s the problem. What’s needed now is not “historical perspective,” “understanding” or “respect,” but legislation ensuring protection and punishment. This is precisely because perspective, understanding and respect alone will not stop hate speech — especially that directed at new groups or those who have not traditionally been as ostracized as ethnic minorities.

    Rest of the article at
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/time-for-legislation-to-prevent-spread-of-hate-speech/

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    As Eric noted, there is the muscle (such as it is) of Japan’s judiciary recently supporting something like this:

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    NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
    Japanese high court upholds ruling against anti-Korean activists’ hate speech
    KYODO, JUL 8, 2014

    The Osaka High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that branded as “discriminatory” demonstrations staged near a pro-Pyongyang Korean school by anti-Korean activists who used hate-speech slogans.

    A three-judge high court panel turned down an appeal by the Zaitokukai group against the Kyoto District Court decision ordering that it pay about ¥12 million in damages to the school operator, Kyoto Chosen Gakuen.

    The order also banned the group from staging demonstrations near the school in Minami Ward, Kyoto.

    Presiding Judge Hiroshi Mori said in the high court ruling that Zaitokukai members staged the demonstrations near the school with the intention of spreading anti-Korean sentiment among Japanese people.

    Mori said Zaitokukai members’ activities were not intended to serve the public interest and that the group’s actions seriously damaged the school’s provision of ethnic education.

    The ruling found that eight Zaitokukai activists staged anti-Korean demonstrations near the school three times between 2009 and 2010, using loudspeakers to denounce those inside.

    They yelled slogans, accusing the students of being “children of North Korean agents” and demanding that all ethnic Koreans be kicked out of Japan.

    The activists posted footage of their activities on the Internet.

    In October 2013, the Kyoto District Court accepted a lawsuit by the school operator, ordering the nationalist group to pay damages and noting that Zaitokukai’s activities run counter to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which came into force in 1969. Japan ratified the convention in 1995.

    During the high court hearings, Zaitokukai argued that their members exercised their rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, and argued that the damages were excessive.

    Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/08/national/crime-legal/japanese-high-court-upholds-ruling-anti-korean-activists-hate-speech/

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    For the record, here’s how people deal with it in other countries, such as, oh, the European Parliament and France:

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    WORLD / SOCIAL ISSUES
    Polish MEP’s racial slur sparks anger
    AFP-JIJI JUL 17, 2014

    STRASBOURG, FRANCE – A far-right Polish MEP outraged lawmakers gathered in the European Parliament on Wednesday by comparing the continent’s unemployed youth to “niggers” in the U.S. South.

    Janusz Korwin-Mikke, the outspoken leader of the royalist and libertarian Congress of the New Right party, delivered the remark during a speech to deputies decrying the existence of minimum wage laws.

    Comparing job-seeking youth to black laborers in the American South during the 1960s, Korwin-Mikke said: “Four millions humans lost jobs. Well, it was four million niggers. But now we have 20 millions Europeans who are the Negroes of Europe.

    “Yes, they are treated like Negroes!

    “We must destroy the minimum wage and we must destroy the power of trade unions,” the 72-year-old added, before being shouted down in the parliament session.

    The Socialist coalition immediately called on Korwen-Mikke to apologize or resign over what it called the “worst insult of racist discrimination and humiliation.”

    “What Mr. Korwin-Mikke has preached did not only offend those that have a different skin color, but everyone who is inspired by the European values of dignity and equality,” said Italian Socialist Cecile Kyenge, who is of Congolese origin.

    Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/17/world/social-issues-world/polish-meps-racial-slur-remark-sparks-anger/

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    Front National politician sentenced to jail for ape slur
    Anne-Sophie Leclere handed nine-month prison term for comparing French justice minister to chimpanzee
    Agence France-Presse in Cayenne
    The Guardian, Wednesday 16 July 2014 13.20 EDT
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/16/french-national-front-politician-sentenced-to-jail-monkey-slur-christiane-taubira

    A former local election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) in France has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing the country’s justice minister, who is black, to an ape.

    Anne-Sophie Leclere provoked a storm last year when she compared Christiane Taubira to an ape on French television and posted a photomontage on Facebook that showed the justice minister, who is from French Guiana, alongside a baby chimpanzee. The caption under the baby ape said “At 18 months”, and the one below Taubira’s photograph read “Now”.

    Leclere was an FN candidate in Rethel, in the eastern Ardennes region, for the 2014 local elections, but the FN soon dropped her and went on to do well in the March polls.

    On Tuesday, a court in Cayenne, French Guiana’s capital, sentenced her to nine months in jail, banned her from standing for election for five years, and imposed a €50,000 (£39,500) fine. French Guiana is an overseas département of France and is inside the European Union. It also handed the FN a €30,000 fine, putting an end to a case brought by French Guiana’s Walwari political party, founded by Taubira.

    The court went well beyond the demands of prosecutors, who had asked for a four-month jail sentence and a €5,000 fine.

    Leclere, who was not present in the court, said that she would appeal. The FN said it would also appeal, denouncing the sentences as “appalling” and criticising the trial as a “trap”, as the party was unable to find a lawyer in Cayenne to defend it.

    In a television appearance last year, Leclere said she would prefer to see Taubira “in a tree swinging from the branches rather than in government”.

    “She is wild,” Leclere said, adding: “I have black friends and it doesn’t mean I call them monkeys.”

    Leclere has since defended her comments, saying that while clumsy, they were not racist. She said the photo montage was a joke, and added: “The photo was posted on my Facebook page and I took it off a few days later. I was not the creator of this photograph.”

    Taubira has been on the receiving end of several racial slurs over the past year. Not long after Leclere’s comments, the far-right weekly newspaper Minute published a cover featuring a picture of Taubira and headlines that read: “Crafty as a monkey” and “Taubira gets her banana back”.

    In French, getting your banana back is roughly the equivalent of recovering the spring in your step.

    Joel Pied, of Walwari, said Tuesday’s court decision was “historic and beneficial”. He said: “A prominent institution of the republic recognises that the Front National is punishable by law and that it’s a racist party. We hope this decision will mark a milestone.”

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    Thanks for the reference to our work, United Nations.  So there is precedent, example, template, and international embarrassment.  Will this result in a law in Japan against hate speech (ken’o hatsugen)?  I say again: not in the foreseeable future, sadly.  As noted on Debito.org many times, we have had all four of these pressures in Japan for decades now (not to mention an international treaty signed in specific), yet we still can’t get a law against racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu) in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

    6 Responses to “JT: Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts and columnist Eric Johnston; why I doubt that will happen”

    1. FaithnoMore Says:

      People supporting Japan’s no-go on anti-racial discrimination legislation don’t get it. It’s not that there isn’t discrimination in Japan because of the reasons stated (there irrefutably are huge numbers of issues).

      It’s because the government and judicial system are discriminatory, as the Supreme Court decision on welfare benefits shows. If you are not a kokumin then you are not a citizen, have second-class (or even fewer) rights and that’s that. If you base your conception of being a kokumin on nationality, and nationality based on blood, then you are racist.

      If you meaningfully write and meaningfully act anti-racial discrimination legislation, then this could be the thin end of the wedge that brings down the whole two-tier system. Besides, Japan’s legal system is unprepared to cope with masses of lawsuits and function as a real legal system that creates new law and president and evolves. It is designed to maintain the status quo.

      In terms of national self image, once the carefully crafted narrative of Japanese people being kind and communal, different and special, superior to other Asians and nearly white but at the same time victims of the white and – yet – incapable of racism, only because they are misunderstood because they are so unique – narrative comes crashing down, then what is Japan left with? A rational debate on race and discrimination. But a rational debate would ruin the carefully crafted national images and self-myths.

      How to break this loop of course is to get the legislation through. Erm. Any ideas?

    2. Jim di Griz Says:

      B,b,but, theres no racism in Japan, because only Japanese people live in Japan, and all Japanese are the same!

      THAT’S the conceit that will undermine any effort for progress on this issue.

    3. john k Says:

      “…Yet Japan, citing freedom of expression, is reluctant…”

      So, when a NJ in Japan expresses themselves it is a crime, at least a “social” crime and is thus ostracised. How dare you say XX or YY..or even do XX or YY…’we’ J do not do/say this. etc etc. Yet when a J’s expresses themselves and perform outrageous acts, it is their freedom of expression. Same old double standards…

    4. Jim di Griz Says:

      AND…,,
      In other news, a monument to victims of Japan’s wartime aggression has to come down, because it makes Japanese people feel uncomfortable.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/23/national/social-issues/gunma-disapproves-monument-korean-forced-labor/

      Not as uncomfortable as the forced laborers were though, I’ll bet.
      Still no swing to the right and whitewashing of history, you apologists say?
      Abe’s march to Take Japan Back! to the 1930’s continues.

    5. TJJ Says:

      Can someone tell me where the Japanese freedom of speech is protected? Is it in the constitution? Or some other law?

      – The Constitution, for starters.

    6. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito Says:

      Korean writer to file suit against Zaitokukai, website operator over hate speech
      August 15, 2014 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy MS
      http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140815p2a00m0na006000c.html

      OSAKA — A 42-year-old writer and Korean resident of Japan will file suit with the Osaka District Court as early as Aug. 18 against the anti-Koran activist group Zaitokukai and an Internet site operator, saying their hate speech campaigns have damaged her reputation, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

      Lee Shin-hye, a resident of Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture, will seek about 5.5 million yen from Zaitokukai and its leader Makoto Sakurai, and about 22 million yen from the site operator Hoshusokuhou (conservative bulletins) which posted similar racially discriminatory remarks. Experts say the suit is the first to be filed by an individual against hate speech mainly targeted at Korean residents of Japan.

      Lee says Sakurai and his group repeatedly posted discriminatory messages from early last year to July this year, including some making a point of her nationality and calling her an “outlaw Korean.” The site operator also carried similar derogatory remarks by anonymous contributors, she says.

      Attorney and Tokyo Bar Association member Yasuko Morooka, who researches legislation to curb hate speech, told the Mainichi that the impending lawsuit is important as it has the potential to confirm hate speech against individuals is unlawful. The case will follow on recent landmark court decisions that ruled protests carried out by Zaitokukai in front of a pro-Pyongyang school constituted illegal hate speech.

      ENDS

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