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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.