Mainichi Editorial: Japan needs effective hate speech law to stamp out racist marches

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Hi Blog.  To cap off this month of discussion on Debito.org about Japan’s new hate speech laws, check out what the Mainichi (clearly a supporter, given their generous coverage of the issue, particularly regarding enforcement) said about a bill at the national level back in April.  It passed in June.  This article offers a good accounting of just how much work went into getting the local governments to take a stand on the issue, and how grassroots movements do indeed influence national policy in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Editorial: Japan needs effective hate speech law to stamp out racist marches
April 11, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160411/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

A bill intended to put a stop to hate speech campaigns directed at people of particular races or ethnicities looks set to be deliberated by the Diet during the current session.

Hate speech, with its heavy doses of terms like “Kill them!” and “Get out of Japan,” is abusive and libelous, and can stir up racist sentiments. It is, in short, an offense against basic human rights, and it cannot be tolerated. Nevertheless, there is presently nothing stopping the groups that promote this violent rhetoric from spreading their toxic message.

There were 1,152 confirmed cases of hate speech across the country during the 3 1/2 years ending in September 2015, according to the recently released results of the Justice Ministry’s first-ever investigation into the problem in Japan. That is nearly one incident a day, and it is an absolute embarrassment for a democratic nation such as ours.

The opposition-sponsored anti-racism bill was followed by one with the backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito. The ruling and opposition parties should put their heads together to get a law passed halting hate speech as soon as possible.

Hate speech marches through areas of Tokyo and Osaka that are home to many Korean residents of Japan have been intensifying in recent years, and have been spreading all over the country. Under current law, authorities have only been able to restrict hate speech actions when the perpetrators have committed an illegal act. The Justice Ministry officially labeled hate speech a human rights violation only in December of last year, and warned a former hate group leader to stop the organization’s activities. Although this is certainly a positive step, a warning has no legal power.

Behind the relatively tame official response to such racist polemics is the fact that hate speech is not in itself illegal. The government, meanwhile, has approached the problem by carefully balancing the principle of freedom of expression with direct regulation.

In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination advised the Japanese government to take resolute action against hate speech, and to enact anti-hate speech legislation.

There are also strong domestic calls for a government response to hate speech. In January of this year, the city of Osaka enacted the country’s first anti-hate speech ordinance. In addition, more than 300 local government assemblies across Japan have adopted a written statement calling on the central government to take appropriate legal action against hate speech, while staying within the Constitutional right to freedom of expression. In these acts, we can see a definite fear that Japan will lose the trust of the international community if hate groups continue to peddle their poisonous polemics unhindered.

Hate speech doesn’t just damage the dignity of the individual. It can also create a deep well of dread in those subjected to it, including children. Freedom of expression is a very important right — but hate speech is an obvious abuse of that right.

The LDP-Komeito bill defines hate speech as unjust discrimination. The bill differs greatly from the opposition’s version, which seeks to regulate a wider range of discriminatory acts and calls for the outright ban on hate speech. Neither bill, however, lists a punishment for hate speech violations.

To the contrary, we believe that Japan needs a law that clearly defines hate speech, preventing broad interpretations that could be warped into threats to the freedom of expression. The law should also include provisions that will have some practical effect, such as giving authorities the power to deny hate groups the use of public facilities and roads for demonstrations.

It’s time for a show of political strength.
ENDS

Japanese version

社説
ヘイトスピーチ 根絶へ政治の意思示せ
毎日新聞2016年4月10日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160410/ddm/005/070/030000c

特定の人種や民族に対する差別的言動を街頭で繰り返す「ヘイトスピーチ」を止めようとする法案が、今国会で審議される見通しになった。

ヘイトスピーチは、「殺せ」「出て行け」といった乱暴な言葉で罵倒や中傷し、差別感情をあおり立てる。人権侵害であり、到底許されないが、ヘイトスピーチを繰り広げる団体の活動は抑え込めていない。

法務省が初めて行った実態調査では、昨年9月までの3年半で全国で1152件のヘイトスピーチが確認された。1日1件に近い数字で、民主主義の国として恥ずべきことだ。

民主党(現民進党)などが国会に提出した人種差別撤廃施策推進法案に続き、自民、公明両党はヘイトスピーチ解消に向け法案を出した。ヘイトスピーチを止めるため、与野党で法制化の協議を急ぐべきだ。

東京や大阪など在日韓国・朝鮮人が多く住む地域でヘイトスピーチと呼ばれるデモが数年前から激化し、全国に広がった。

捜査当局などは、現行法の範囲で違法行為があれば取り締まってきたが、ヘイトスピーチは沈静化していない。法務省がヘイトスピーチを人権侵害と位置づけ、団体の元代表にやめるよう勧告したのは昨年12月だ。それでも強制力はない。

厳格な対応ができない背景には、現行の法制度では、ヘイトスピーチそのものを違法行為と認定できないことがある。一方、政府は、「表現の自由」との兼ね合いで直接的な法規制に慎重な姿勢を示してきた。

国連人種差別撤廃委員会は2014年、日本政府に対し、ヘイトスピーチ問題に毅然(きぜん)と対処し、法律で規制するよう勧告した。

国内からも政府の対応を促す声が強い。大阪市は今年1月、ヘイトスピーチの抑止を目指す全国初の条例を成立させた。国に対し、表現の自由に配慮しながらも、法規制など適切なヘイトスピーチ対策を求める意見書を採択する地方議会は300を超えた。国際社会の信頼を失いかねないとの危機感がそこにはある。

ヘイトスピーチは、個人の尊厳を大きく侵害するだけではない。子供などは強い恐怖感を抱く。表現の自由は大切な権利だが、ヘイトスピーチは明らかな権利の乱用だ。

与党案は、ヘイトスピーチを不当な差別と位置づけた。より広範な差別を規制対象とし、「禁止」を明確にした野党案と開きはあるが、罰則を伴わない点は共通する。拡大解釈で表現の自由が脅かされることのないようヘイトスピーチの定義を明確にしたうえで、道路でのデモや公共施設の使用を止められるような実効性のある法律にすべきではないか。政治の強い意思を示すべきだ。
ENDS

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