Asahi and JT: Osaka adopts Japan’s first anti-hate-speech ordinance


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Hi Blog.  Good news.  Japan finally has something on the books that deals with hate speech in Japan, giving it definition and scorn:  A local ordinance (jourei) in Osaka.  The bad news is that this ordinance does not criminalize or penalize the perpetrator, or give much support to the victim.  As Eric Johnston notes below, there are no fines for haters, insufficient help for victims, and little more than an official frowning-at (a “naming and shaming”) of people who are probably beyond shame.

However, one bright side is that naming and shaming is precisely what does to racist exclusionary “Japanese Only” businesses (that is basically all can do, of course).  The reason why this is a source of brightness is that our naming and shaming has occasioned criticism from apologists for being “un-Japanese” in approach.  This ordinance now officially makes the approach Japanized.  So there.

And given that the last attempt to do something like this, a decade ago, ended in dismal failure (where anti-discrimination legislation in Tottori was passed and then UNpassed), I have the feeling that this time the legislation will stick.  It’s a step in the right direction, and salutes Osaka for finally getting something on the books.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Osaka to adopt Japan’s first anti-hate speech ordinance
January 14, 2016, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, courtesy of JK

OSAKA–Rabble-rousers who use hate speech are to be named and shamed here in the first official crackdown on verbal racism in Japan.

Osaka, home to many ethnic Koreans who are often the victims of such attacks, is set to adopt an ordinance aimed at punishing those suspected of using hate speech against ethnic minorities.

A hate speech examination committee will be set up–comprised of scholars and lawyers–to pore over details of verbal attacks if a complaint is lodged by a victim living in the city.

If the panel judges the attack to be hate speech, the city government will name the perpetrator, whether it be an organization or individual, and publicize outlines of the incident on its website or in other places.

The move is intended to demonstrate Osaka’s determination to eradicate hate speech while deliberations on a bill seeking to ban such racism in the Diet have made little progress.

The city assembly is expected to pass the draft ordinance during the plenary session on Jan. 15.

The ordinance defines hate speech as despising and slandering with the aim of excluding an individual or group of a particular race or ethnicity from society and inciting hatred and a sense of discrimination toward them.


Osaka assembly passes nation’s first ordinance against hate speech

OSAKA – The city of Osaka passed the nation’s first ordinance by a major city against hate speech late Friday.

The text is a watered-down version of a proposal that the assembly made last year and will serve merely to name and shame perpetrators.

It does not provide city funds to victims of hate speech for use in fighting the perpetrators in court. Nor does it fine those who make racial slurs and threats of violence.

Instead, the ordinance creates a committee that investigates allegations of hate speech filed by Osaka residents.

The committee is expected to consist of five academic and legal experts whose appointments must be approved by the assembly. If the committee judges that a particular group is engaged in hate speech, its name will be posted on the city’s website.

Last year’s version of the ordinance failed to win the assembly’s approval because of disagreement over a provision that would have given the city the authority to loan money to victims who secure recognition by the committee and who want to take their case to court.

Although the ordinance was supported by then-Mayor Toru Hashimoto and his Osaka Ishin no kai (One Osaka) local party, the measure was opposed by the LDP and Komeito.

Earlier in the session of the the municipal assembly deliberating the ordinance, a man in the gallery threw two colored balls filled with orange paint onto the floor, bringing the discussions to a standstill.

When the man was subdued by guards, he resisted by shouting, “Protect the self-esteem of Japanese people,” Kyodo News reported.

After the disruption, the session resumed late Friday night.

Osaka became the international focus of hate speech in 2013, following an incident that February in which the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai held a rally in the city’s Tsuruhashi district, home to many ethnic Koreans.

Rest of the article at

12 comments on “Asahi and JT: Osaka adopts Japan’s first anti-hate-speech ordinance

  • If you wanted to pass a new ordinance that will absolutely do nothing to stop or prevent hate speech then this is it. Since their are no fines or penalties for the violators. So this is a bad joke because its not going to stop anyone, and to think that just by putting offenders names on their website is going to prevent hate speech is very wishful thinking since this group has zero shame anyways so they could care less. Thanks Osaka for nothing, no enforcement, no oversight, no accountability! Half-ass at best, another ass backwards ordinance.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Well, before we start having an opinion on this, I think we should wait and see how this is implemented.
    After all, there is a ‘tradition’ in Japan of appropriating/adopting the SYMBOLS of the modern, developed international community, whilst implementing them in a way not commensurate with intended meaning. For example, if you look up ‘Feministo’ in a Japanese dictionary, you will find a description of a misogynist rather than a feminist, and so far, The Hague Convention on Child Abduction has only been implemented in Japan to bring children back to Japanese parents (to give but two examples).

    Therefore, rather than protecting the genuinely weak and marginalized members of Japanese society, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see its implementation in Japan ‘inverted’ to protect ‘victim Japan’ from the ‘hate speech’ of NJ who criticize its human rights failings, corruption, whaling, sexism, etc, as ‘hate’ against Japan’s ‘unique culture’.

    The proof is in the pudding (as they say).
    Show me the pudding!

  • I think it will be a useful tool for the people who control the groups that investigate hate speech claims…
    How they will implement/enforce this policy will tell us a lot.
    I wonder how long it will take for other cities to copy…

  • Baudrillard says:

    Jim, feministo is just a postmodern symbol twisted by the Japanese in their subconcious submission to the western (yes, western haha)postmodern fake society they live in. See my post about JAL and “stalker” or “air rage”.
    Just instruments of control of NJs.

    Ironically the PC Principals (see South Park, almost preternaturally right about this) are just tools of the right, even if ostensibly on the left. As you say, it is twisted to be used as justifications of unique “kawaiso” Japan as Victim.

  • Baudrillard says:

    “Japan bashing” was the term used when the UN or anyone at all took Japan to task for “human rights failings, corruption, whaling, sexism, etc, as ‘hate’ against Japan’s ‘unique culture’” as Jim sees it.

    Its as if “You only pick on We Japanese (Govt) coz we venerate uniquer culture (neo-facism). No fair!”

    or when Japan withdrew from the League of Nations, Christian convert Yōsuke Matsuoka (松岡 洋右) foreign minister compared Japan’s “victimization” at the hand of the league to that of “Christ on the Cross”.

    Oh, the nerve of it.

    By the same token, I think I ll start using “Japan’s four seasons and unique culture” to push for a better expat package.

  • Of course this is all about free speech in Japan, right?

    Well take a look at how Japanese society operate when it comes to free speech, to speak out against racism.

    How come this chap is prevented from practicing free speech, yet those haters have been protected for so long?

  • 64 organizations in Kawasaki join hands to stamp out hate speech
    January 19, 2016, courtesy of JK

    KAWASAKI–Churches, unions and other groups here have banded together to form a coalition to eradicate hate speech targeting foreigners and social minorities.

    The “Kawasaki citizens’ network against hate speech,” composed of 64 labor unions, Christian churches, groups of local assembly members and citizens groups in the city and its surrounding areas, announced its formation on Jan. 18.

    It will kick off its activities with a counter-demonstration against a hate speech rally that is expected to be held in Kawasaki later this month.

    The group also plans to organize a petition drive and apply other pressure on the city government to eliminate hate speech demonstrations and other harassment of social minorities.

    During a news conference on Jan. 18, Hiroo Sekita, 87, a pastor and professor emeritus of theology at Tokyo’s Aoyama Gakuin University, said that hate speech rallies violate the constitutional rights of foreign residents. He said past rallies have also negatively impacted Japan’s diplomatic relations.

    Kawasaki, an industrial city in Kanagawa Prefecture, has one of the largest concentrations of Koreans and other foreign residents in the Kanto region. The group said it has confirmed 11 cases of hate speech rallies targeting Korean residents in the city since 2013.

    Representatives from Korean communities in Kawasaki said at the news conference that it is paramount for Japan to eliminate hate speech to protect their children’s generations from discrimination.

    The coalition will organize its first symposium on Jan. 23 at the Kawasaki labor union hall in Kawasaki Ward, inviting Shin Sugok, a human resources consultant and human rights activist, and other guest speakers.

    To counter a hate speech rally in Kawasaki that is scheduled for Jan. 31, the group plans to stage a demonstration and hand out leaflets in front of JR Kawasaki Station to raise awareness of minority rights.

    The coalition will collect signatures from citizens by the end of March in a petition drive calling for the city government to implement measures to eradicate hate speech demonstrations in fiscal 2016. The group also hopes to increase the number of its member organizations.

  • This notion of “hate speech” is dangerous because it stifles free speech.
    After all, who is to determine what is “hate” and what is not?
    In the U.S., this “hate speech” and “hate crime” stuff has gotten way out of hand to the point it is used by certain groups to gain preferential treatment.

    — I’ll allow this thoughtless (especially since there is no national-level “hate speech” law in specific in the US) trolling post through only to say that my next JT column will deal with this issue of “hate speech” legislation stifling freedom of speech. Please do not feed the troll.

  • @Debito – In defense of Bob P. (who I think might be the Bob who has shared good “Don’t agree to cop stops” advice in the past) I think that a valid point is being raised.

    Some folks (me, Jim, Baudrillard, Bob) are worried that Japan will use such laws to penalize YOU and ME and US and anyone who has voiced or TYPED criticism of Japanese culture and Japanese people in particular.

    “I hate how Japanese-culture-raised people in general often commit racial discrimination…” BAM, suddenly all such posters here are arrested for “hate speech against the the Japanese race” as well as the distributor of such “hate speech” (the person who approved all such comments, the person who published all such uncomfortable but true comments) Dr. Debito Arudou.

    For example, in America there are unfair hate crime laws in America which penalize one race for assault MORE than another race for assault.

    Please forgive me Debito, but I’m starting to think that MY ideal laws are like this, “Anybody who denies entry based on race must be punished by the state (new law, the law you’ve been campaigning for for decades), and anybody who threatens physical harm must be punished by the state (which is an already legislated law that needs to begin to be enforced every time.)”

    I think it is rosy-tinted-glasses to imagine that “hate speech / hate crime / hate thought / hate T-shirt design” laws in Japan are going to be enforced mainly to protect non-Japanese.

    People on the internet and on the street should still have the right to say things such as “I hate the way foreigners often do action X” just as we should still have the right to say things such as “I hate the way Japanese often do action Y.”

    When that sentence is followed up with “…and so you better do action Z or we’re gonna’ kill you all” is when an arrest should be made for violating the already legislated laws of threatening physical violence.

    I don’t want this site to be shut down, I don’t want to be arrested, and I don’t want YOU to be arrested Debito, for having posted about things we hate about Japan, Japanese culture, specific Japanese people, and Japanese people in general.

    I think THIS is the point being made by these posters:

    Jim wrote: The Hague Convention on Child Abduction has only been implemented in Japan to bring children back to JAPANESE parents… I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see [hate speech laws] implementation in Japan ‘inverted’ to protect ‘victim Japan’ from the ‘hate speech’ of NJ who criticize its human rights failings, corruption, whaling, sexism, etc, as ‘hate’ against JAPAN’s ‘unique culture’.

    Baudrillard wrote: Ironically the PC Principals (see South Park, almost preternaturally right about this) are just TOOLS OF THE RIGHT, even if ostensibly on the left. As you say, it is twisted to be used as justifications of unique “kawaiso” JAPAN as Victim.

    Bob wrote: After all, who is to determine what is “hate” and what is not? “Hate speech” and “hate crime” … is used by certain groups to gain preferential treatment.

    Please forgive me brother, for saying this, but how about we push for ACTIONS (like entry-denial and physical-threats) to be punished each and every time, before we push for OPINIONS (like I hate Gaijin and I hate Japanese) to be punished by a board of subjective people with their own subjective agendas.

    And when considering this post of mine, please remember, it is hard to find a brother in this world who agrees with 100% of our current feelings about things, so even though we may occasionally slightly disagree on some things, let’s remember how much we agree on 90%. 🙂

    So, my bottom line question, which I hope you will ponder, is what is stopping THIS SITE from being labelled as “Hate speech against Japanese.” ?

    — I have pondered, of course. And I’m remarkably not worried about it. Anyway, read my upcoming JT column and see if you find my argument for hate-speech legislation compelling.

    (And PS: A quick check revealed that this Bob P is not the same as the other Bob you referred to above. He’s trolling by giving throwaway and unsubstantiated opinions geared to generate more heat than light. You aren’t. That’s why I approved your comment. But any more trolling and the entire thread will be deleted.)

  • Understood. Thank you. Will read your upcoming JT column with an open-mind (and an open-heart, haha, imagine that being said in the voice Michael used in the “Diversity” training episode of The Office. “An Open Mind, and An Open Heart” haha)

    But seriously, all jokes aside, yes I seriously will read your upcoming JT column with an open-mind and an open-heart, as we always should be striving to do always, because I know that my opinions change from time to time. There is a strong probability that I might basically conclude, Points Taken.

    I remember, for awhile there, I foolishly got pulled into thinking that entry-denial based on race should be legal. Thank goodness you helped me come back to my senses about that question Debito.

    (We do indeed need a law in Japan penalizing entry-denial based on race, or even to make it more clear, a law in Japan penalizing entry-denial altogether, as the 1964 Civil Rights Act in America does. If your private business is open to the public for profit, you are open to the public for profit, everybody’s money is legal tender, you must accept and allow any customer who has not done anything illegal on the premises. You can’t deny entry to anyone, not by race, not by creed, not by any of that, and you can only kick out those rare customers who have done committed a crime right there inside the store/restaurant/whatever. Legally Acting Customers Only. That’s the only ‘limiting’ sign which you can post from now on. So yeah, basically, we need a law that says all that. How could I ever have momentarily debated Debito about that.)

    So yeah, I once read an article written by a seemingly intelligent and persuasive author who argued that, even though he was a black American, even though it would hurt his feelings, that the Civil Rights Law should be repealed, so that private companies could once again have the right to pick and choose their customers.

    I was like, “Hey, this makes sense” for awhile there, but Debito you pulled me back to sanity. So, possibly, and even probably, you will convince me that it makes sense to outlaw the, actually very real and physically testable come to think of it, reality of the already legally protected damage known as seishin-kutsuu = emotional distress caused by ANY action, whether the action is entry-denial, or whether the action is hateful words. I guess as long as there is proven emotional distress caused, then yes, I am on board with the stance that now we have damage to the body as well and thus now we have a victim, a higaisha, and thus suddenly we have a legally patently proven kagaisha. Damage to one party (in this case emotional damage, which creates body damage, however slight) requires the party which did the damage to be penalized. This is why we have law. To penalize all acts of damage, with a penalty great enough to scare would-be-damagers away from the act of damaging.

    Anyway, bottom line to this post is, I look forward to reading your upcoming JT post, as I do to all of your posts.

    — Thanks. Likewise I look forward to your feedback.

  • Could I just add one small added note? In defense of this site, I feel the intent behind all our posts is always quite simple: the REDUCTION of damage (e.g. seishin-kutsuu) nationwide, for the improvement of the country we love, Japan. That is all. 🙂

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