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Hi Blog. Let’s keep the good news coming, on the heels of the suspension of the anti-foreigner government online “snitch sites”. Anti-Korean hate group Zaitokukai’s activities have been singled out for official frowning-at for some time now, including being put on the National Police Agency watch list in 2014, being publicly berated by the Osaka Mayor in 2014, and losing big in court in 2013–setting a good anti-defamation precedent recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination.
Now the “former leader” of Zaitokukai, Sakurai Makoto, has been issued Japan’s first ministerial warning that his activities are unlawful and violate human rights. And that individuals (not just groups) are also covered against hate speech. Good. But let’s take into account the limitations of this “advisory”. One is that it has no legal force (it’s basically, again, an official frowning-at). The other is that it can only claim this is unlawful, not illegal, because even after twenty years of signing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no laws against racial discrimination. And, as noted below, the GOJ declined to pass any laws against hate speech in 2015. Thus, the debate in Japan can only focus on abstract issues of victim reaction such as “dignity” and “personal agony”, which are much harder to proactively enforce in a legalistic manner. All the GOJ can do is run on fumes and frown–not actually arrest these extremists for encouraging violence against an entire ethnicity within Japan, or even stop the police for selectively keeping order in favor of the rightists.
Still, we take our good news as it comes in. We must, or this becomes a very dismal science indeed. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Ministry issues hate speech advisory to ex-leader of Zaitokukai
December 23, 2015, The Asahi Shinbun, courtesy of JK.
By MOTOKI KANEKO/ Staff Writer
The Justice Ministry for the first time issued a hate speech advisory, warning the former leader of a group against ethnic Koreans on Dec. 22 that its activities are unlawful and violate human rights.
The advisory was issued to Makoto Sakurai, former chairman of Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for ethnic Korean residents in Japan). The group is more commonly known as Zaitokukai, and it has gained international attention for blaring discriminatory and menacing taunts at its street rallies in ethnic Korean neighborhoods.
Although the advisory does not carry legal force, the ministry deemed Zaitokukai’s actions to be unlawful.
The advisory also recognized individuals as victims of hate speech for the first time.
The ministry asked Sakurai to reflect on his actions and refrain from conducting similar activities.
According to the ministry, Sakurai and other members of Zaitokukai shouted racist slogans at two ethnic Koreans from the front of the gate at Korea University in Tokyo’s Kodaira. These slogans were shouted at the two on three instances, in November of 2008, 2009 and 2011.
The slogans included, “Drive the Koreans out of Japan,” and, “We came to kill Koreans.”
The two ethnic Koreans filed a complaint with authorities.
The ministry’s investigation included interviewing Sakurai.
It concluded that Zaitokukai’s actions “propagated hatred and hostility by assuming ethnic Koreans are criminals and abused their dignity as human beings, something that cannot be overlooked from the viewpoint of protecting human rights.”
Japan does not have any law against hate speech. However, groups of citizens and politicians have been pushing for the enactment of such legislation, and the advisory was welcomed by the targets of the hate speech.
“The fact that the Justice Ministry identified their activities to be unlawful will be a blow to the group,” said Yasuko Morooka, an attorney representing the two ethnic Koreans. “However, the advisory has no legal force. Because hate speeches are unlawful and abuse the dignity of a person, induce a strong sense of terror and cause agony, it’s not something we can allow the government to leave untouched.
“We should keep a close eye on the government’s moves from here on.”
The ruling coalition dropped plans to enact hate speech legislation in the Diet session this year. Differences of opinion arose in discussions on how to strike a balance between restrictions on speech and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.
Yasuhiro Yagi, the current leader of Zaitokukai, said the ministry’s advisory is a form of a human rights violation against his group.
“Issuing an advisory to us as if we are trying to hold street activities we haven’t even held in four years is in itself a violation of human rights by the Justice Ministry,” he said.
2015年12月22日 23時58分, courtesy of JK