Good news: Rightist sentenced to a year in jail for harassing company using Korean actress in their advertising


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Hi Blog.  A bit of good news.  A member of a nasty Rightist group was sentenced to a year in jail for harassing a Japanese company for using a Korean actress in its advertising.  That’s hopeful, as we are seeing examples of xenophobia in Japan going beyond internet and political-arena bile (as well as signposted exclusionism) and into the street for race-bating and interpersonal confrontation.  Without some kind of brake like this court decision, it’s only a matter of time before somebody goes too far and we have race riots in Japan.

I would have liked to have seen a little more detail in the article below about the timeline of the harassment.  I can speak from personal experience that it can take a year or more between an event and a conclusive court decision in Japan, so how responsive is Japan’s judiciary being here?  Also, note that this case is not punishing somebody for hate speech against an ethnic group or a person in Japan — it’s protecting a Japanese company against threatening behavior, a bit different.  I will be more reassured when we have a (similarly criminal, not civil) case involving arrest, prosecution, and jail time for an individual threatening an individual on the grounds of his/her ethnicity/national origin.  But I don’t think that will happen under the current legal regime, as “the government does not think that Japan is currently in a situation where dissemination of racial discriminatory ideas or incitement of racial discrimination are conducted to the extent that the government must consider taking legislative measures for punishment against dissemination of racial discriminatory idea, etc. at the risk of unjustly atrophying lawful speech…

That assessment was made by the MOFA to the UN more than a decade ago.  Given what I see are xenophobic tidings in Japan these days, I think it’s time for an update.  Arudou Debito


Nationalist sent to jail after harassing company using Korean actress in advertising
By Adam Westlake / December 18, 2012 / Courtesy JK

A court in Japan has sentenced an extreme nationalist to one year in jail after he began a hate-based harassment campaign against a Japanese company that used a popular South Korean actress in its magazine and television advertising. The situation peaked when 44 year old Hitoshi Nishimura, along with three other men, forced their way into the Osaka headquarters of the pharmaceutical firm and demanded to know why the company was using someone with an anti-Japanese background.

Nishimura said the actress Kim Tae-Hee was a South Korean activist herself when he entered the Rohto Pharmaceutical building and began making angry threats. He stated Kim participated in activities that asserted Seoul’s claims over the disputed Dokdo / Takeshima Islands, which are located in between Japan and South Korea, and have been the source of tensions for decades. In video footage of the intrusion, Nishimura is seen as yelling at the company’s officials and claiming to represent “angry Japanese throughout the country.”

The court sentenced Nishimura to a one-year jail term for making threatening acts, but no information has been released on the other three men. While somewhat overshadowed by the eruption of escalating tensions between China and Japan, the latest round of the territorial dispute with South Korea was kicked off in August when President Lee Myung-Bak made an unexpected visit to the islands. This resulted in protest from the Japanese government, as well as back-and-forth displays of nationalism on both sides. In one example, a group of South Korean swimmers, including a celebrity athlete, swam in a relay to the islands. Vocal groups in Japan began criticizing television broadcasters that showed Korean dramas, and even recently Korean pop-music acts have been left out of events and getting less airtime.

[via My Sinchew]


14 comments on “Good news: Rightist sentenced to a year in jail for harassing company using Korean actress in their advertising

  • “and even recently Korean pop-music acts have been left out of events and getting less airtime.”

    So when China stops exporting rare earth to Japan, Japan cannot complain. They cannot seem to separate issues, can they? As Weber pointed out, a Statist Communist regime and a capitalist regime are both the same in terms of rationalization. Micro management of people’s lives.

  • You’re absolutely correct Debito. A Japanese company being protected from a man ‘making threats’. So, even whilst his behavior may have been racially motivated, it is not that point which the law has concerned itself with, and the ‘victim’ is Japanese. Not much progress there then, is there really.
    As for separating issues, it will be interesting how any attempt by Abe to review the Kono statement about Japanese accountability for the systemic rape of Korean women (sorry, I should use the warm and fuzzy term ‘comfort women’) during the war, will be received by Korea’s new female President Park.

  • I saw the news on TV. The guy, dressed in very nice, expensive looking clothes, with few of his thugs by his side, actually personally attacked the employee who met him to hear his claims. He asked the employee, a man, his face not seen, if he personally believes that Takeshima/Dokdo is Japanese territory, and when the employee tried to avoid a direct answer, which could be seen as a political statement by the media, Nishimura started threatening him, doing the yakuza talk (“Korrrra” stuff), banging on the table and kicking chairs. If I was that employee, I would be really scared, because clearly Nishimura is not alone. There is someone paying for his nice clothes and his time.

  • This is a news clip from Youtube about Nishimura:

    And a full recording of their visit to Rohto:

    — Good stuff. Thanks for this. What a shame the original article blanches out so many of the important details of this case. The sentencing of Nishimura was pretty quick by Japanese standards, more good news. And despite what deniers have tried to argue on, there is no law (as acknowledged in the news clip) against hate speech in Japan.

  • 2012年12月19日 13:51 (サーチナ)






  • ロート製薬脅した被告に実刑判決 韓国女優CM起用巡り
    朝日新聞 2012年12月18日




  • ロート製薬に「竹島」見解強要、男に実刑判決 韓国女優のCM起用で因縁
    産経新聞 2012.12.18 11:20 [芸能人の不祥事]




    Other news articles repeated here:

  • The comments below that youtube clip are pretty telling as well. At the end of the day though I agree with Jim, the J authorities are merely protecting a J company. Race not a factor in any of that.

  • @Johnny#10
    I had the same feeling of deja vu, then I watched the first video and suddenly remember where I’d see that man before: he was the ringleader of a bunch of right-wing thugs who were harassing a Korean school in Kyoto. The fact that we remember his face is a sure sign that he’s a charismatic fellow, quite good at cultivating not-very-bright followers, and it’s scary to think of what a person like him could do if he ever got into power.
    Don’t want to go all Godwin’s on you, but here’s a thought:

    As an aside, I was struck by the usage of the English term “hate speech” in the first video. Is there no linguistic equivalent in Japanese? Or, as with the term domestic violence (which has a Japanese equivalent, kateinai-bouryoku), do they simply prefer the English term? I can think of a few examples, such as sexual harassment, or more recently power harassment, which have made their way into the Japanese language, albeit in katakana-ized and abbreviated forms. I wonder if this is a distancing phenomenon. Do Japanese people seriously believe that these behaviours originated overseas, and were imported to Japan only recently?

    Please let me know if you can think of any other examples.

    — “Hate speech” is 嫌悪発言 (ken’o hatsugen) in clinical-sounding kanji. There are other equivalents that come off as shrink-speak and sound more accessible when stated in katakana. Check your newspapers — will generally give the katakana loanword and then the kanji as the definition. I don’t think it is much of a distancing phenomenon as it is easier to understand (you don’t have to envision the kanji in your head to get the meaning, whereas “hate” and “speech” are basic English words taught everyone in public education). One exception: 公民権 kōminken, “civil rights,” commonly used in reference to the American Civil Rights movement under Martin Luther King Jr., not so much in Japanese contexts (more often used are shiminken or jinken).

  • @#12
    In regards to “human rights”/人権 here, the problem is that it is really ill-defined. Being physically attacked by someone is a human rights issue here (which, come to think of it, means that the new ‘verbal argument = domestic violence’ thing could be as well), but being discriminated against based upon ones ethnicity isn’t. Being discriminated against because of ones ‘family origins’ (see: Hashimoto vs Asahi), however, apparently /is/ a human rights violation.

    Like a lot of things here it’s incredibly schizophrenic and unclear, likely because – and this is just my opinion – the Japanese didn’t have to develop these concepts on their own, but rather brought them in from the outside world. They managed to kind of shoehorn it into Japan but it still doesn’t really fit all that well, kind of like their take on parliamentary democracy or the legal system.


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