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Hi Blog. Good news from the Japanese judiciary. A lower court in Kyoto has finally ruled for the first time that a) hate speech exists in Japan, b) it is an illegal activity, subject to restriction, sanction, and penalty, and c) it is covered under international treaty (since Japan has no law against hate speech) such as the UN CERD.
That is a hat trick in terms of jurisprudence (on par with the Ana Bortz Case and the Otaru Onsens Case, although they were arguably more about issues of business and access to services than abstract concepts like freedom of speech).
Let’s hope a higher court does not overturn this. But I think the zealous bigots at Zaitokukai are realizing they’ve gone too far and set a spoiler precedent. About time — when their followers advocate murder and massacre of an ethnic minority, I think that’s when even timorous Japanese judges, who are sensitive to media attention, have to draw a line somewhere. Here’s where it was drawn. Articles from the Mainichi/Kyodo and Japan Times follow. Arudou Debito
PS: And in case you find the title of this blog entry a bit odd: Yes, there are legal forms of racial discrimination in Japan — the “rational” ones. It takes a court to decipher which ones are “rational discrimination” (gouriteki sabetsu) and which aren’t.
Court orders anti-Korean activists to pay damages over hate speech
Mainichi Shinbun,Courtesy of JK
KYOTO (Kyodo) — The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging a demonstration during which they directed hate speech at the ethnic Korean community in Japan, banning them from staging further demonstrations.
It is the first court decision in connection with hate speech, which fans discrimination and hatred toward a certain race or minority, lawyers for the school said.
October 07, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)
Anti-Korean activists ordered to pay 12 million yen over hate speech demonstrations
October 07, 2013 (Mainichi Japan) Courtesy of MS
KYOTO — The Kyoto District Court on Oct. 7 ordered anti-Korean activists to pay 12.2 million yen in damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school through a demonstration in front of the school in which they used loudspeakers to disseminate hate speech.
The court decision came after the operator of Kyoto Korean Primary School sued the “Zainichitokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai” (Zaitokukai), a citizens group against special rights for Koreans, and its former members, demanding 30 million yen in compensation and a ban on anti-Korean demonstrations within a radius of 200 meters from the school.
Presiding Judge Hitoshi Hashizume concluded that the group’s actions, including promoting its demonstrations on the Internet, aimed to fan discrimination and hatred toward Koreans living in Japan. It is the first court decision that recognized these anti-ethnic Korean demonstrations as a form of racial discrimination banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The ruling discussed if freedom of expression secured under the Japanese Constitution could apply to the Zaitokukai’s demonstrations from December 2009 to March 2010, during which group members delivered hate speeches using words such as “Kick Korean schools out of Japan!” and “You guys smell like kimchi” and “These students are children of spies!” through loudspeakers at the school in Kyoto’s Minami Ward.
The ruling is hoped to prevent similar anti-Korean hate speech-fuelled rallies held mainly in Tokyo’s Shin-okubo district and Osaka, and is expected to spark debate on laws and regulations against such movements.
Meanwhile, Zaitokukai’s vice chairman Yasuhiro Yagi said, “We’re disappointed that the legitimacy of our actions were denied. We’ll decide whether or not to appeal after studying the verdict.”
Original Japanese story:
朝鮮学校授業妨害:街宣損賠訴訟 在特会街宣に賠償命令 「人種差別で違法」 朝鮮学校周辺、活動禁止−−京都地裁判決
毎日新聞 2013年10月07日 東京夕刊
Mainichi Shinbun Editorial, courtesy of MS:
Editorial: Ruling that hate speech constitutes racial discrimination is rational
October 08, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)
A recent court ruling that stated that any hate speech campaign targeting particular races and ethnic groups constitutes racial discrimination and is illegal should be regarded as a rational judgment. It is hoped that the ruling, the first of its kind, will lead to the prevention of hate speeches, which have been conducted in neighborhoods of Tokyo, Osaka and other regions where many Korean residents are living and has developed into a serious social problem.
The Kyoto District Court ordered members of Zaitokukai, or a citizens group that “does not tolerate privileges for Korean residents in Japan,” which organized one of such campaigns, to pay 12.26 million yen in damages to the operator of a pro-Pyongyang Korean school in Japan. The court also banned the group from engaging in such street propaganda campaigns.
In the ruling, the court concluded that the defendants obstructed the school’s business and defamed the plaintiffs by blaring through loudspeakers, “Descendents of illegal immigrants,” and “Destroy Korean schools,” and uploading the footage of the campaign online.
The district court went on to recognize that the defendants’ campaign falls under “distinction and exclusion based on race or ethnic origin,” which is banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The court also expressed its view that the amount of compensation for any form of racial discrimination, such as the hate speech by Zaitokukai, is higher in accordance with the convention.
Zaitokukai claimed that it launched the campaign in question to protest against the school for using a neighboring park as a sports ground without permission from the Kyoto Municipal Government, which manages the park. However, the court ruled that regardless of whether Zaitokukai’s claim was true, the defendants’ campaign is illegal because it was obviously aimed at spreading a sense of discrimination against Korean residents throughout society. The court also dismissed Zaitokukai’s claim that its freedom to express political views should be protected, noting that the hate speech did not contain anything that served the common good and was nothing but an insult.
Freedom of expression is an important part of fundamental human rights. As such, the freedom to express opinions through demonstrations should be guaranteed. However, hate speeches could impair the dignity of Korean residents and other targets and foster prejudice against foreigners and exclusionism in Japan’s society.
In South Korea and China, these demonstrations in Japan are widely reported online, stirring anti-Japan sentiment. We must prevent such campaigns, launched by only a small portion of Japanese people, from contributing to the worsening of Japan’s relations with South Korea and China.
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Japan is a party, has a clause requiring parties to punish those involved in hate speeches. Some European countries legally slap punishments on those involved in such campaigns.
However, Japan has reserved its ratification of this clause in the convention for fear that should it enact legislation imposing criminal punishment on those involved in such campaigns, it could lead to excessive controls on freedom of speech and other forms of expression. Actually, the latest ruling has demonstrated that existing legislation can control hate speeches.
The ruling highlighted the common sense of not tolerating discrimination based on race and ethnic origin. It is important to ensure social consensus to avoid any words and deeds that impair individuals’ dignity from taking form in Japanese society. Japan should improve its efforts through education and other means to nurture people’s notion of human rights.
Original Japanese story:
毎日新聞 2013年10月08日 東京朝刊
Japan Times version (including the error that the Koreans make up Japan’s largest ethnic minority. In fact, since 2007, the Chinese do; nigh time for lazy reporters to update their preconceptions):
Zaitokukai told to leave Korean school in Kyoto alone
Court bans rightists’ hate speech, rallies
KYODO, AP and The Japan Times OCT 7, 2013
KYOTO – The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging demonstrations during which they used hate speech, and banned them from staging further rallies.
The landmark ruling acknowledged for the first time the explicit insults used in the rallies constituted racial discrimination, human rights experts said, and it could prompt a move to exempt hate speech from free-speech rights under the Constitution.
Presiding Judge Hitoshi Hashizume said the actions of Zaitokukai members and other activists who shouted hate-speech slogans near the school and posted video footage of the demonstrations online were “illegal.”
The actions “constitute racial discrimination as defined by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,” which Japan has ratified, Hashizume said.
Zaitokukai and the activists were ordered to pay about ¥12 million and banned from street demonstrations within a 200-meter radius of the pro-Pyongyang Korean school in the city of Kyoto. The operator of the school had sought ¥30 million in damages.
The operator filed the lawsuit in June 2010 against the group and eight activists for using hate speech on three occasions from December 2009 to March 2010 near Kyoto Chosen Daiichi Elementary School in Minami Ward.
The activists shouted slogans, such as “throw Korean schools out of Japan” and “children of spies,” through loudspeakers, disrupting classes and causing some students to complain of stomach pains, according to the suit.
The plaintiff argued that its right to receive “minority education” had been violated in seeking a ban on such demonstrations around the school, which has been consolidated with Kyoto Chosen Elementary School in Fushimi Ward since the incidents.
Several hundred thousand Koreans comprise Japan’s largest ethnic minority group, many of them descendants of forced laborers shipped to Japan during its brutal 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Many still face discrimination.
Such rallies have escalated this year and spread to Tokyo and other cities with Korean communities amid growing anti-Korean sentiment. In street rallies held in major Korean communities in the Tokyo area, hundreds of group members and supporters called Koreans “cockroaches,” shouted “Kill Koreans” and threatened to “throw them into the sea.”
Zaitokukai defended its actions as “freedom of expression” and said they were intended to oppose the school’s installing of a platform for morning assembly without permission at a park that is managed by the city.
Four of the eight defendants have been convicted of forcible obstruction of business and property destruction in connection with the demonstrations, while the school’s former principal has been fined ¥100,000 for unauthorized occupancy of the park.
22 comments on “Kyoto District Court orders anti-Korean Zaitokukai to pay damages in first J court decision recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination”
NYT’s take on the Kyoto Zaitokukai decision follows. A friend or two of mine in the legal community are decrying this as a dangerous precedent against freedom of speech. I find that a bit alarmist. I’m glad that minorities are finally being protected against being publicly denigrated by the dominant majority in Japan. — AD
Japanese Court Fines Rightist Group Over Protests at a School in Kyoto
By MARTIN FACKLER
Published: October 7, 2013
TOKYO — In a widely watched decision, a court in Kyoto on Monday ordered a far-right group to pay $120,000 in damages to an elementary school for ethnic Koreans after the group staged demonstrations using slogans that the court characterized as racist.
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The ruling, by the Kyoto District Court, is one of the first court decisions in Japan to address a recent proliferation of street protests using hate speech against ethnic minorities, usually Koreans and Chinese. Most of the protests appear to have been organized by a vocal new group called the Zaitokukai, whose Web site says has almost 14,000 members.
The Zaitokukai is the most extreme part of a new generation of ultranationalists known as the “Net right” because it uses the Internet to organize. While the group represents a tiny fringe in this otherwise law-abiding nation, its members have recently drawn attention for marches in Tokyo’s ethnic Korean neighborhood of Okubo, during which they shouted anti-Korean slogans. In June, several marchers were arrested after a confrontation with counterprotesters turned into fistfights, a rare occurrence in usually peaceful Tokyo.
While some Japanese have compared the Zaitokukai to the skinheads or neo-Nazis of the West, sociologists say its members lack the same sort of clear race-based ideology and usually draw the line at violence. Rather, they say, members tend to be young Japanese men who feel disenfranchised by such personal failures as an inability to get a stable corporate job and then take out their resulting frustration by blaming foreigners.
In the Kyoto case, members of the Zaitokukai held protests outside the Kyoto No. 1 Korean Elementary School between December 2009 and March 2010 and called the students spies and cockroaches, school officials said. As the marchers shouted through bullhorns, parents rushed to block them from entering the school, and teachers led the children in songs to drown out the insults, school officials said.
According to the suit filed by the school against members of the Zaitokukai, several children have since complained of stomach pains from anxiety and stress. In the suit, the school sought $300,000 in damages.
Zaitokukai members said the group was protesting the school’s unauthorized use of a neighboring city park for assemblies and other school activities. It also criticized the school for having a pro-North Korean stance, as many ethnic Korean schools in Japan do. This is a legacy of the years after the 1950-53 Korean War, when many ethnic Koreans in Japan felt obliged to take sides, and the socialist North was seen as more politically progressive than the then-authoritarian South.
In his ruling, the court’s presiding judge, Hitoshi Hashizume, said the group’s actions were illegal because they constituted racial discrimination. In addition to having to pay damages, members of the Zaitokukai were ordered to stay more than 600 feet from the school, which has since merged with a similar school in Kyoto.
Two sides of the same coin, addressed differently in UK??
“..Home Office ‘Go home’ adverts banned by industry watchdog..”
I’d really like to get a copy of the court opinion and see the legal reasoning without the press filter. Concerning freedom of speech (Article 21 of the Japanese Constitution)The Japanese Supreme Court has said before that “It is true that freedom of expression should be respected as a particularly important right in democratic society. However, Article 21, paragraph(1) of the Constitution does not guarantee freedom of expression absolutely or unconditionally, but allows a necessary and reasonable restriction for public welfare. Even a means to be used for making one’s opinion public would be unacceptable if it unjustly harms the rights of others.” It seems like the Kyoto District Court followed this line of cases. So in theory, this ruling should be upheld.
What’s the reasoning behind the judge saying that posting videos of the protest online is illegal?
Is this only for cases when the person doing so is attempting to spread racial hatred? Would a passerby who recorded such a protest also get in trouble for posting a video online?
Other than that, this is a very important ruling. It’s good to see some progress is being made.
“We’re going to kill you!” is a threat of violence, that should be punished, in my opinion.
“I hate (insert race/nationality/religion/gender/orientation/age/etc.)” is rude speech, that should not be punished, in my opinion.
The Japanese girl who yelled, right in front of Japanese police, “I want to kill you Koreans! We Japanese are going to massacre all of you Koreans currently living in this neighborhood (Tsuruhashi) just like we did to the Chinese living in Nanking before! We Japanese can kill people when we get angry! Move to Korea or we are going to kill you all!”
That person should be punished because she made a threat of violence. In fact, she should be imprisoned because she literally made the strongest possible threat of violence possible.
If she had simply quietly said to her friends, “I hate Koreans!” that would be her right, in my opinion.
As soon as someone starts yelling anything loudly, even “I love bananas!” (either with or without an amplifier) as soon as the sound is above 88 decibels: that is disturbing the peace, and should be punished.
So, I feel:
loud speech of any kind above 88 decibels should be punished,
and threats of violence (either quiet or loud) should be punished,
yet quietly saying “I hate a group of people” should not be punished.
I want to see all people yelling above 88 decibels, and all people making threats of violence, punished by the courts.
That’s just my two cents on this subject.
— Why a threshold of 88 decibels?
Are the judges actually timorous, or are they (mostly) in the whole thing? Which side are the judges on?
— Read my book JAPANESE ONLY, for one example. Judges usually side with The State or the status quo. But they also are very aware of how the press is seeing their case. That’s one reason, I believe, why the wheels of the Japanese justice system turn so slowly — the media can’t sustain prolonged attention to cases that way.
Interesting how the Japanese version of the Mainichi article gives two examples of what those bigots shouted, but censors the assertion “You guys smell like kimchi!” Even for newspaper editor such a rant is just too offensive, an insult to “we Japanese” readers. Evidently even some of the more enlightened members of society can’t believe that any member of what is after all still conceived as the “in group” would stoop that low. How odd that all of a sudden those hardly known for their subtlety display such a delicacy of sensibility.
I don’t see this ruling as being a good thing. All this serves to do is protect Japan’s image, and preserve their tatemai face for the world. But, it does nothing to reduce the secret iceberg of discrimination in Japan, just hides the tip. It drives it underground, reduces it’s visibility, and increases it’s deniability. And anyone who knows anything about the Japanese people at all, knows that if it is at all deniable, they will deny it. Debito’s success in removing the signs around Japan had the same effect, and served to damage the cause of reducing discrimination by making it less visible. Today, most apartments are not available for rent to foreigners, Japanese still don’t want to sit next to us on the train, and many half-empty restaurants are “sorry, but full”, and this is the kind of discrimination that needs to be attacked, not just the provable, obvious ones that spoil Japan’s image.
Oh come on… you’re being overly cynical. All this means that more suits like this could follow in the future. It has potentially opened a floodgate. And what do you mean, “the Japanese people”, you make it sound as if it is an in-born trait, when it’s just continuation of previous thought patterns and behavior.
Racism in Japan is mostly… politicized and institutionalized.
I don’t agree, although I do think freedom of speech should be close to absolute, you have to draw the line at threats of violence and certainly you can’t have mobs gathering outside schools. The court ruling does not cover up racism in Japan artificially, it genuinely strikes a blow against it. Things won’t change overnight, it takes steps in the right direction, if this ruling stands it will be a precedent and can be used everywhere. This kind of super extreme hate speech has been shown time and again to brainwash a certain type of mentally degenerate person as it bypassses any kind of logical argument and lets people skip over analysis and just join the lynch mob.
As for Debito’s success in having discriminatory signs removed, this is also a major step forward as it sends out a message to everyone that although discrimination may still exist, it is not acceptable and if you carry on with it underground, you are doing so underground in an unacceptable manner, this can and does change attitudes, we know that because other countries have already been down this path and they have come out successfully the other end, in part by using exactly these methods.
@helmut schoeck, #8
>”Debito’s success in removing the signs around Japan had the same effect, and served to damage the cause of reducing discrimination by making it less visible.”
That’s a typical argument right-wing bullies and like-minded people like to use to accuse anyone of disclosing the ‘inconvenient truth.’ Don’t fall for that. It’s contagious–and, utterly harmful.
And in other news: this man in the UK was arrested for verbally (drunkenly) abusing a Japanese woman on the train. Arrested!
— And rightly so.
@ Becky, I’ll stick my neck way out and say I feel differently about this. Sure,the woman is innocent but until the Japanese government is perceived as offering genuine atonement for relatively recent war crimes then its innocent citizens when abroad will continue to occasionally suffer such abuse; by no means uncommon.
I like her “I m not nasty, you are” comeback too, which ignores the content of his rant and just focusses on how he is expressing it, i.e. rudely, nastily. Culturally, I would argue this is a common trait in Japan; its not what you say, its how politely you say it. But certain taboo topics are by nature defined as rude in Japan, e.g. Japan’s unpleasant wartime record.
So arguably, she is in denial as well by sidestepping the whole issue, but then I hardly expect your average Japanese tourist or even Japanese UK resident to trip the verbal light fantastic with pithy comebacks under pressure, though I still live in hope of being surprised from time to time.
To quote a Japanese living in Britain quoted in an EFL text in Japan (New Insights), “The British like arguments, the Japanese don’t”.
So perhaps I could take what I have learnt from living in Japan and say “Oh, this guy didn’t mean anything, We British like debate. Its just a “cultural difference! (^-^).
To quote Bridget Jones’s mother “Japanese? Cruel race” (mysteriously missing from the translation in the version released in Japan).
This is what your average older conservative Brit thinks of when you mention “Japan” -war crimes, River Kwai, Tenko, Hiroshima, Pearl Harbor. Sure, its ignorant but that’s the way it is, the way fictions and the media branded Japan in people’s minds.
The Japanese Embassy’s PR campaign to paint over this without genuine atonement just come across as hypocritical and hyper sensitive, humorless and politically immature and unsophisticated as witnessed and discussed at this site with their attempt to “control the narrative” by complaining to the BBC etc. Ditto their failed attempts to rebrand Abe as a democrat, as opposed to his “nationalist” label in the western media.
Finally, I thought Japan was not a “race” per se. So, I would argue that arresting this man under a “racially aggravated” public order offence plays directly into the “We Unique Japanese” mindset and again compounds the conundrum whereby Japanese abroad reap the benefits of anti discrimination laws in the west while denying racism exists in Japan itself, and thus “doesn’t need legislation”.
The very headline (“racist drunk.. abusing Japanese” has now branded any kind of expressed anti Japanese feeling as automatically “racist”. So that’s 1-0 to the Japanese rightists trying to control the narrative of how Japan is treated and perceived overseas.
He merely expressed outrage at historical events. He did not call her a “yellow ….”, for example.
He should have just been arrested for “drunk and disorderly”-which is probably what would have happened if the situation had been reversed in Japan.
Lets see if he is charged, and with what.
@ Becky #12
The irony is that the Japanese would expect him to be punished for such disgusting behavior in the UK , but don’t even have a law to protect foreigners from such behavior in Japan. Maybe this guy has experience of living in Japan, and has suffered years of ‘othering’ on the Yamanote sen?
@ Baudrillard #14
We have become apologists! Lolz!
Let’s see if the Japan apologists brand us as ‘racists’ in this case.
“..Finally, I thought Japan was not a “race” per se..”
It is defined* here:
(c)ethnic or national origins.
(2)In relation to the protected characteristic of race—
(a)a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person of a particular racial group;
(b)a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons of the same racial group.
(3)A racial group is a group of persons defined by reference to race; and a reference to a person’s racial group is a reference to a racial group into which the person falls.
(4)The fact that a racial group comprises two or more distinct racial groups does not prevent it from constituting a particular racial group.
(5)A Minister of the Crown may by order—
(a)amend this section so as to provide for caste to be an aspect of race;
(b)amend this Act so as to provide for an exception to a provision of this Act to apply, or not to apply, to caste or to apply, or not to apply, to caste in specified circumstances.
(6)The power under section 207(4)(b), in its application to subsection (5), includes power to amend this Act.
Just thought you might appreciate an update on my earlier post, about the train passenger in UK who was arrested in October for verbally abusing a Japanese woman. He has been sentenced to three months imprisonment.
Three months! Jail!
What he did was inexcusable, but honestly? I’m not sure I’d like to see Japan become a country where people get thrown into jail for being drunk and disorderly (and if it were, then half of my friends would have served time by now). Surely a stiff fine and letter of apology would’ve sufficed, at least in this particular case.
Almost every NJ male (including probably a few readers of this blog) that I talk to tells me of being verbally threatened and harassed by drunk oyajis and salarymen: in restaurants, bars, trains, and very occasionally on the street. I am always horrified to hear their stories, and very sympathetic, but I don’t think any man deserves prison time for being drunk, stressed out, and full of impotent rage.
If it’s systematic, then yes, but if he’s just being a dick?
I suspect that because he threaten with his bottle of wine (as it says in the new report), before drinking its contents that helped sway their argument for a custodial sentence. Since it is ostensibly a “weapon”…image if it were a knife…to the victim, it is the same thing!
What is more shocking, not the sentence, but shock horror, the police believed her, tracked down the man and then took him to court. Regardless whether he was convicted or not, and/or the resulting sentence. Oh yeah…forgot, the UK has laws that are upheld for all, not just one “race”. Can you image any non-J being given such supportive rights and/or treatment in Japan?
>Let’s hope a higher court does not overturn this.
High court affirms hate-speech ruling
Let’s hope the Supreme Court does not overturn this. 🙂
High court affirms hate-speech ruling
July 09, 2014
OSAKA (Jiji Press)—The Osaka High Court upheld a lower court ruling on Tuesday, banning a Japanese group from conducting a campaign of harassment that includes hate speeches near a primary school for Koreans in Kyoto.
It rejected an appeal by the group known as Zaitokukai, against the Kyoto District Court ruling issued in October last year. Tuesday’s ruling is the first by a Japanese high court over hate speech. Zaitokukai plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The high court fully endorsed the district court ruling that prohibited Zaitokukai and nine individuals, including members of the group, from conducting anti-Korean activities within a 200-meter radius of the primary school. They were also ordered to pay ¥12.26 million in damages to the operator of the school.
The district court ruled the group’s activities illegal, saying that they constitute discriminatory behavior banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The ruling said that Zaitokukai carried out a campaign of harassment near the school between December 2009 and March 2010.
According to the ruling, group members used loudspeakers and said the students were “educated by criminals” and told them to go back to the Korean Peninsula. The group uploaded videos of its activities on its website.
The Osaka High Court’s presiding judge, Hiroshi Mori, criticized Zaitokukai by saying that the group “insisted in a public space that Korean residents in Japan should be removed from Japanese society.” The group also “enabled the damage to the school to be reproduced by spreading videos over the Internet,” he added.
High court upholds that hate speech is unlawful
High court upholds that hate speech is unlawful
July 08, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)
OSAKA — The Osaka High Court on July 8 dismissed an anti-Korean organization’s appeal of a lower court ruling that ordered its members to pay over 12 million yen in damages to a Korean elementary school operator in Kyoto over hate-speech demonstrations.
“(The group’s) statements expressing hatred and contempt for Korean residents of Japan were vulgar and crude, and can be recognized as highly unlawful,” said Presiding Judge Hiroshi Mori.
Lawyers for Kyoto Chosen Gakuen, the operator of Kyoto No. 1 Korean Elementary School, say it is the first time that a high court recognized the illegality of hate speech and upheld the payment of such a large amount in damages. The anti-Korean group Zaitokukai plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
According to a ruling handed down by the Kyoto District Court in October last year, members of Zaitokukai claimed that then Kyoto No. 1 Korean Elementary School was unlawfully occupying a city park by using it as a schoolyard. On three occasions between December 2009 and March 2010, the group staged demonstrations against the school in Kyoto’s Minami Ward, yelling slogans such as “Kick out Korean schools from Japan” and “(The students) are children of spies.” The organization then posted video footage from these demonstrations online.
The ruling stated that the organization used bullhorns to scream and intimidate while many students were at school, and denounced the demonstrations as malicious acts that foment and heighten society’s sense of discrimination toward Korean residents of Japan, their children and Korean schools.
Furthermore, it explained that not only did the demonstrations create obstacles to ethnic education among Korean residents, but also “imposed great psychological burdens for students at the Korean school through no fault of their own.”
Based on spirit of the United Nations’ International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution, which guarantees the right to the pursuit of happiness, the court found Zaitokukai’s demonstrations to be illegal and saw it fit to order the organization and eight of its members to pay approximately 12.2 million yen in damages (the school had sought 30 million yen in damages). The court also prohibited any demonstrations by the group within a 200-meter radius of the school, which had since been merged and relocated to Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward. The group subsequently appealed the ruling.
In the appeal trial, Zaitokukai argued that its loud demonstrations questioning the school’s use of the park were “not discriminatory, but rather political opinions.”
Four Zaitokukai members were arrested on charges including forcible obstruction of business, and guilty verdicts for all four have been confirmed. Meanwhile, the then principal of the school was fined for violating the Urban Park Act by putting up soccer goals in the park without permission from the city.
Thanks for posting those.
I think it is an important baby step, however, notice how the racists tried to claim that their right to spout hate-speech was a constitutional right. It is this line of reasoning that is dangerous- the constitution is ‘flexible’ when Abe wants the SDF to fight, but not for protecting children from abuse?
@Jim Di Griz #21:
Yes, I agee — it’s a baby step.
Note that the ruling does not apply to public hate speech. So, as long as the Zaitokukai don’t focus their hate speech on a specific target (e.g. a Korean school) they’ll get a free pass.
Court ruling touches off debate on application of hate speech regulations
Court ruling touches off debate on application of hate speech regulations
July 09, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)
The Osaka High Court on July 8 upheld a lower court ruling ordering the anti-Korean organization Zaitokukai to pay damages and stop demonstrating after it conducted hate speech at a pro-Pyongyang Korean school. Continued debate on regulations is likely, however, since the ruling does not apply to public hate speech, where identifying direct damages is difficult.
The high court ruled that the discriminatory speech activities served to undermine social attitudes toward the Korean school, as well as impose severe psychological burdens upon the children studying there, while also impeding the school’s educational process.
Zaitokukai and eight of its members were therefore ordered to pay approximately 12.2 million yen in damages to plaintiff Kyoto Chosen Gakuen, the operator of Kyoto No. 1 Korean Elementary School, whom the court said had suffered immaterial damages over the incident.
The ruling also said a compensation order can be issued under the Civil Code only after specific losses are confirmed.
The ruling also demonstrated that such orders to pay compensation cannot be given in mere instances of racial discrimination, however, since concrete proof of damages must be provided on the victim’s side. It will be difficult, in other words, for the ruling to help stop public hate speech demonstrations — which continue to take place on city streets in Tokyo and Osaka — since they do not involve specific targets, unlike the Korean school in this case.
And while major European nations levy criminal charges against hate speech, Japan — like the United States — is taking a cautious stance while weighing the matter against that of free speech.
“This incident was directed toward a specific school, so the court was able to establish that defamation occurred,” commented professor Shojiro Sakaguchi with the graduate school of Hitotsubashi University, who researches constitutional law. “It does not mean, however, that general cases of hate speech will be able to be ruled as illegal based upon the ruling in this case.”
“Discrimination is an unforgivable act that causes people harm,” he continued, “but depending upon how legal regulations are put into practice, it is possible that freedom of speech could become damaged. The rights and wrongs of legal regulations must be deeply considered.”