Asahi: Justice Ministry issues first-ever hate speech advisory to Sakurai Makoto, ex-leader of xenophobic Zaitokukai group


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Hi Blog.  Let’s keep the good news coming, on the heels of the suspension of the anti-foreigner government online “snitch sites”.  Anti-Korean hate group Zaitokukai’s activities have been singled out for official frowning-at for some time now, including being put on the National Police Agency watch list in 2014, being publicly berated by the Osaka Mayor in 2014, and losing big in court in 2013–setting a good anti-defamation precedent recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination.

Now the “former leader” of Zaitokukai, Sakurai Makoto, has been issued Japan’s first ministerial warning that his activities are unlawful and violate human rights.  And that individuals (not just groups) are also covered against hate speech.  Good.  But let’s take into account the limitations of this “advisory”.  One is that it has no legal force (it’s basically, again, an official frowning-at).  The other is that it can only claim this is unlawful, not illegal, because even after twenty years of signing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no laws against racial discrimination.  And, as noted below, the GOJ declined to pass any laws against hate speech in 2015.  Thus, the debate in Japan can only focus on abstract issues of victim reaction such as “dignity” and “personal agony”, which are much harder to proactively enforce in a legalistic manner.  All the GOJ can do is run on fumes and frown–not actually arrest these extremists for encouraging violence against an entire ethnicity within Japan, or even stop the police for selectively keeping order in favor of the rightists.

Still, we take our good news as it comes in.  We must, or this becomes a very dismal science indeed.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Ministry issues hate speech advisory to ex-leader of Zaitokukai
December 23, 2015, The Asahi Shinbun, courtesy of JK.
By MOTOKI KANEKO/ Staff Writer

The Justice Ministry for the first time issued a hate speech advisory, warning the former leader of a group against ethnic Koreans on Dec. 22 that its activities are unlawful and violate human rights.

The advisory was issued to Makoto Sakurai, former chairman of Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for ethnic Korean residents in Japan). The group is more commonly known as Zaitokukai, and it has gained international attention for blaring discriminatory and menacing taunts at its street rallies in ethnic Korean neighborhoods.

Although the advisory does not carry legal force, the ministry deemed Zaitokukai’s actions to be unlawful.

The advisory also recognized individuals as victims of hate speech for the first time.

The ministry asked Sakurai to reflect on his actions and refrain from conducting similar activities.

According to the ministry, Sakurai and other members of Zaitokukai shouted racist slogans at two ethnic Koreans from the front of the gate at Korea University in Tokyo’s Kodaira. These slogans were shouted at the two on three instances, in November of 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The slogans included, “Drive the Koreans out of Japan,” and, “We came to kill Koreans.”

The two ethnic Koreans filed a complaint with authorities.

The ministry’s investigation included interviewing Sakurai.

It concluded that Zaitokukai’s actions “propagated hatred and hostility by assuming ethnic Koreans are criminals and abused their dignity as human beings, something that cannot be overlooked from the viewpoint of protecting human rights.”

Japan does not have any law against hate speech. However, groups of citizens and politicians have been pushing for the enactment of such legislation, and the advisory was welcomed by the targets of the hate speech.

“The fact that the Justice Ministry identified their activities to be unlawful will be a blow to the group,” said Yasuko Morooka, an attorney representing the two ethnic Koreans. “However, the advisory has no legal force. Because hate speeches are unlawful and abuse the dignity of a person, induce a strong sense of terror and cause agony, it’s not something we can allow the government to leave untouched.

“We should keep a close eye on the government’s moves from here on.”

The ruling coalition dropped plans to enact hate speech legislation in the Diet session this year. Differences of opinion arose in discussions on how to strike a balance between restrictions on speech and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

Yasuhiro Yagi, the current leader of Zaitokukai, said the ministry’s advisory is a form of a human rights violation against his group.

“Issuing an advisory to us as if we are trying to hold street activities we haven’t even held in four years is in itself a violation of human rights by the Justice Ministry,” he said.



2015年12月22日 23時58分, courtesy of JK



9 comments on “Asahi: Justice Ministry issues first-ever hate speech advisory to Sakurai Makoto, ex-leader of xenophobic Zaitokukai group

  • Great news! But why didn’t they serve this notice to the current head of this loathsome group? Another attempt to be seen to be doing something that isn’t quite as significant as it might be?

  • One of the problems with Japan is that there’s never been clear definitions of civil rights in any legal context, because nobody’s ever challenged it in court. Just like there’s no clear definition of when the police can stop somebody, or your rights while being stopped. Why? Because it never goes to court, so there’s no precedence. If we complain about it, then somebody above will make some excuse and give some explanation just to save face, but we’re still left without any clear answers. Try to talk with some lawyers about these issues, and they too aren’t clear about it and give conflicting answers.

    For example, exactly what does this Ministry of Justice advisory mean?? If there’s no hate-speech law, can the victims take this advisory and do something with it?? And the advisory says “unlawful” and “violates human rights”, but under what law? Again, absolutely no clear answers in any kind of legal context. You’ll find this sort of thing rampant in Japan’s justice system.

  • “Yasuhiro Yagi, the current leader of Zaitokukai, said the ministry’s advisory is a form of a human rights violation against his group.”

    In a sick way, he’s right. If there’s no law against hate-speech, we can interpret this as suppression of free speech. What’s hate-speech and what’s free speech? That’s why we need legal answers quickly, something that Japan seems unable to do. Though I don’t like the Zaitokukai, I think they ultimately will benefit Japan, because they raise legal questions that have never been raised before, and therefore will force Japanese lawmakers and Japanese society to confront the legal inadequacies of the current system. They will force legal debate, something that has always been lacking in Japan.

  • @Al,

    I tend to disagree; the whole point of limiting their activities is to curb violence and intimidation. Yelling from a speaker all gaijin get out of japan is one thing (an argueable act of free speech) ; threatening them with violence another. watching some of their vids on youtube make me think they were crossing the line.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Al #3

    I disagree.
    Japan abhors a debate. Japan craves top-down decision making that permits the abdication of personal responsibility. This decision protects the status quo; zaitokukai is ‘tatemae bad’ but ‘honne endorsed’ by lack of legal framework to punish. I would argue that this is 100% intentional.
    Like schoolgirl prostitution and lolicon Japan would say this is bad as tatemae only, since it has only last year moved to punish child pornography and still denies at a government level that there is a schoolgirl prostitution problem.
    This is typical Japan seeking to appear to accept modern international norms of human rights whilst ‘nod and winking’ it’s actual rejection of such values.

  • I understand the point Al is making in comment #2 and #3. Here comes my complaining about the MoJ:

    It seems the Ministry of Japan officially stated in writing that somebody did something unlawful.

    First off, the MoJ must state WHAT person(s) they claim COMMITTED the law violation(s), correct?
    (Sakurai Makoto hiimself? Someone else in that group? WHO supposedly has violated an actual law?)

    Secondly the MoJ must state WHAT is the LAW VIOLATION(s) which they claim the person(s) committed.
    (Um, does the MoJ have evidence Sakurai threatened to kill a particular individual living in Japan?)
    (Or, does the MoJ have evidence Sakurai threatened to kill a whole race of people living in Japan?)
    (Or, does the MoJ have evidence Sakurai broke noise ordinances or marched without a permit? Or…?)
    (Like when a police officer initiates questioning, “Wait, what crime did you suspect I committed?”)

    Finally, if the MoJ has evidence of a law violation, an ARREST by the Police must be made right now.
    Conversely, if the MoJ has no evidence of a law violation, then the “unlawful” claim was… unlawful.

    It seems MoJ wrote “this group” “is committing” (and thus has committed) “unlawful acts”, right?
    Well, IMO Sakurai Makoto probably HAS done something unlawful, but the MoJ IS committing slander.
    The MoJ must present evidence to a judge for an arrest warrant, NOT just write “unlawful” claims.

    So, in my opinion, both Sakurai Makoto AND the MoJ have committed unlawful acts. Just my opinion.

    Still, what an idiot Sakurai is (IMO) for stupidly adding, “We only did those acts 4 years ago!”
    Since it’s legally recent enough for a judge to use that admittance to issue the arrest warrant.

    Back to the MoJ’s actions, this illegal “advice memo” is like their other illegal “advice memos.”

    Like the MoJ’s 2003 “seirei” which violates the 1951 Higher-Ranking real LEGISLATED-LAW about PR:
    (The [albeit lenient] LAW states: convictions can NOT be used to deny PR to spouses of citizens.)
    (The MoJ seirei claims the opposite: convictions CAN be used to deny PR to spouses of citizens.)

    And the MoJ’s “guideline” which violates the constitution and LEGISLATED-LAW about Kodomo Teate:
    (The LAW states: ALL residents, with children residing in Japan, can NOT be denied Kodomo Teate.)
    (The MoJ guideline says: FOREIGN residents with kids residing in Japan CAN be denied Kodomo Teate.)
    (I.E. the MoJ guideline says: FOREIGN residents must show EXTRA-goodness-proof, or we deny Kodomo Teate.)
    (As readers here may recall, I always successfully refuse this illegal “SOME residents must show more” threat.)
    (Thus, every year, I show ONLY my Jūminhyō [proving I have kids residing in Japan] = I refuse their passport demand.)

    No matter how much I dislike racist actions, I ALSO dislike fascist UNLAWFUL acts by governments.
    The MoJ slandering a (bad) person in the court of public opinion without a trial seems: unlawful.
    The LAWFUL action for the government to do is bring the evidence and suspect(s) to a court Judge.

  • And yes, at the same time, I agree with Jim’s point in comment #5: This MoJ memo is mere Tatemae BS.

    The fact that the MoJ doesn’t really care any crime was committed is proven by: no arrest, no trial.

  • Just one more opinion here, agreeing with and expanding upon Jim’s comment #5

    Here’s my translation of the MoJ advisory memo, based on the lack of imprisonment:

    “We, the un-elected power-holding edict-writing bureaucrat mafia old-boys who own Japan,
    simply do not like the fact that your group OVER-EXPOSED Japan’s hatred of foreigners.
    The vast majority of us raised in Japanese culture hate foreigners, but keep it quiet!
    Yes, a third of us admitted (oops) in a survey: foreigners don’t deserve human rights.
    Yes, we changed the constitution protection from “the people” to “the Japanese people.”
    Yes, we don’t prosecute the business signs which say “no blacks (etc.) allowed entry.”
    Yes, we don’t have a civil rights law against private companies denying entry based on race.
    Yes, we haven’t created such a law, even though we signed the supreme U.N. CERN treaty in ’95.
    Yes, J-police-officers have been filmed NOT arresting J-folks threatening to kill based on race.
    But see right there: such speeches being filmed and shared with the outside world is a problem.
    Publicly showing our true feelings (hatred of non-Japanese-races) could lead to a trade embargo.
    So, we’re writing this little memo to the ex-leader of the noisiest group now, just to appear PC.
    Now don’t worry, we’re not going to arrest or prosecute you, nor any of the death-threat makers.
    And don’t worry, we’re not going create the required anti-racial-discrimination laws: F the U.N.
    We’re simply going to write this vague weak letter which doesn’t even state who broke what laws.
    We’re slandering you, which will hurt your future income, but you’re safe, we won’t imprison you.
    Just let this be a memo to you and all idiots who reveal our honne: shh, shizuka, keep it secret.
    Discrimination against foreigners (and against J-citizens who have foreign blood) is still kosher.
    We here at the MoJ & the NPA commit racial discrimination daily: but we remember to be diplomatic.
    Your group broke the #1 rule about our “hatred-of-foreigners” club: never loudly admit our hatred.
    Diplomatically talk about “an island culture”, claim “shyness”, but never ADMIT “We hate gaijin!”
    Your speeches over the years simply went too far, by over-admitting our hatred. Thus, this memo.
    But again, don’t worry, we’re not going to actually imprison you. Just be a little more quiet, OK?”

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    MOJ’s kankoku is nothing more than a reprimand to a spoiled kid. They will keep doing so, as long as Zeetards behave like a coward schoolyard bully but throw no punches at their target.


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