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Japan passes bill to make online insults punishable by jail time

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What exactly does "publicly demeans" mean?

Big problems with this.

26 ( +35 / -9 )

Moves to amend the country's Penal Code gained traction after Hana Kimura, a 22-year-old professional wrestler and cast member on the popular Netflix reality show "Terrace House," was believed to have committed suicide in May 2020 after receiving a barrage of hateful messages on social media.

Disgusting use of this tragedy to pass a law that could be appropriately termed "Orwellian".

Watch out for the first time it is used to prosecute criticism of the corruption of an Olympic crony or LDP official.

30 ( +40 / -10 )

Would " nincompoop" be considered an insult?

For example, if someone posted that they thought the maker of this law was a nincompoop.

26 ( +32 / -6 )

arguing that it could stifle legitimate criticism of politicians and public officials.

Is that what really actual purpose? So can be from criticism?

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Just another law to protect idiot and corrupt politicians and public figures from criticism. They cite the reality show actor but there should be more clarification between cyber bullying and actual criticism for example, posts against Abe and his mask or Moritomo. Am I in breach of this law now?

21 ( +25 / -4 )

The Japanese are really thin-skinned. You could never have a show like Late Night with Steven Colbert here. I remember a few years back, a variety show panelist said some humorous remarks about an LDP member and was forced to make a groveling public apology.

 the maker of this law was a nincompoop.

5 years' jail time for you!

23 ( +27 / -4 )

Nincompoop

Iam pretty sure there will be a knock at your door any moment for you to be hauled away under a barrage of blue tarp barriers just for posting the word nincompoop .

Oops i said it again !

14 ( +17 / -3 )

If and that's a big if, this law is properly enforced, Japan should better build more prisons. Be prepared for more tax hikes guys, because we'll be providing more bed and breakfast for a lot of people. RIP freedom of speech. Echoing what the other commenters have said, I wonder who will be responsible for flagging online insults as incriminating.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Japan passes bill to make online insults punishable by jail time

And who’s going to police and enforce all of this?

The Japanese digital media security head, that didn’t even own or know how to use a computer?

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Parliamentary debate has centered on how to strike a delicate balance between tougher regulations and freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Unfortunately Japanese legislation has never been characterized by reaching this kind of delicate balance. Most of the time measures end up being complete toothless or are abused (mostly by the authority).

Would be very happy for my expectations to be proved wrong, but I am not optimistic.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

There are a lot of insults on this site. Not only from most people but from me as well. Do we need to censor ourselves or shall we just leave it to the professional censors as usual?

8 ( +12 / -4 )

There are a lot of insults on this site

Ya think?

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Someone in the government must have invested in a VPN business. Or they are gullible enough to believe they can prevent online harassment with this.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

You could never have a show like Late Night with Steven Colbert here.

Political cartoons wouldn't fly here either though they should make fun of a lot of these goofy politicians.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Political cartoons wouldn't fly here either though they should make fun of a lot of these goofy politicians.

You've obviously never read the Asahi Shimbun. The other day I laughed out loud at 新キシラ looming above the Diet building.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

As if there weren't enough draconian laws to prevent serious investigative journalism and stifle public interest whistleblowing in Japan already.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

This should be entertainingly interesting to observe how the news articles will continue without the articles being defamatory or demeaning or insulting in anyway .

Especially when referring to other nationalities or genders or criminals.

I think its reasonable to assume an expected hypocrisy of magnanimous proportions.

Given Japan's well known propensity for a shame and blame culture i suspect this new law will be applied selectively by the elite upperclass as leverage .

Even the mods will appear demeaning

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

How will they combat online harassment coming in from out of Japan ?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Just get JT moderators on the case

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Things people find insulting differ and even go to the extreme of being insulted by the biologically correct pronouns. Cyberbullying is obviously awful and dangerous, but the answer isn't to jail anyone who says an insult, the answer is to create support groups and encourage people to stop reading those hateful messages and stop taking to heart what strangers say. I was cyberbullied and I certainly responded with some harsh insults in response, would I then be jailed?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

There are alot of insults on this site

Are you referring to the articles or comments or both ?

Being that most commenters avatar identity name is fictional then does this new law apply ?

I doubt it .

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Does anyone have a link to an explanation in Japanese? I can't find anything

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The law brings up a lot of questions of what is an insult, how it is to be determined, and would it be online comments or just printed articles? With fines and jail time associated with it, it looks like it could be a slippery slope.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Fantastic!

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and others have opposed the revision, arguing that it could stifle legitimate criticism of politicians and public officials.

This is exactly why they are doing it!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I hope this website keeps the identities of posters confidential, encrypted and protected by a firewall. Bejesus…

2 ( +5 / -3 )

What doofus came us with this idea??

oh, hang on… there is now a knock my door….

8 ( +10 / -2 )

@virusrexToday 08:15 am JST

Unfortunately Japanese legislation has never been characterized by reaching this kind of delicate balance. Most of the time measures end up being complete toothless or are abused (mostly by the authority).

How about the Secrets Law? I remember a lot of hubbub when it was passed, so if it has been "abused" since then, it was kept very quiet.

I don't like this law, but I do know that every time a cyberbullying case goes, people (including those here) demand that Japan "do something". Well, this is the do something. If you guys didn't like something like this, you guys should have stayed quiet.

I am sighing.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

So, it's already considered Illegal to fight back, while being assaulted by someone, and now they're trying THIS out... should be interesting

3 ( +4 / -1 )

ahh...laws where the meaning is subjective and fluid.....what is gentle poking fun to some is disgraceful bullying to others. A slippery slope to start down, especially in this age of snowflakes and egg-shell walkers.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The big difference is that, with "cyber bullying", you can just walk away. Put the phone down. Close that website. Plus, the biggest question is precisely WHO gets to determine what is "harmful", "insulting", "demeaning", etc. I don'T know too many politicians I would trust with that much power.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Hopefully they will define "hate speech" versus " freedom of speech" over social media ... but who am I kidding LOL

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Ruling party LDP will exploit this law to silence with criticism.

Osaka mayor or related person of far-right party "Ishin" who close to LDP are already repeating SLAPP suit to silence criticism.

Moreover, they want emergency situation clause that can realize even autocracy.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

let me ask

who will be one who will decide what is insult and what is not?

are we heading to some kind of censorship at higher level?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

It used to be that China was the great imitator,

copying other's ideas, and using them as their own...

But now I think the current globalists in charge are imitating China.

I await the day when all these "edicts" tumble under their own weight.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

What a backwards country.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Or, why not teach future generations that words cannot hurt you and do not take anything anyone says to your personally.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Great move Japan, well done !!..

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

This is incredible dangerous and opens the door for censorship. This is typical Japan where a pseudo law is created while being ill-defined, vague in its formulation so that it opens a broad range of interpretations. If a I say that someone is clueless and stupid because their idiotic ignorance is responsible for disinformation and misinformation as we can for example see so often on this site concerning COVID-19, is that an insult?

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Meh, this is going to end the same as all other laws and regulations that are not enforced except as an excuse in some exceptions, according to the Japanese law it is illegal to sell indecent materials and we all know how well this is working.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ah, you're doing that "I personally don't like this comment so I'll label it 'Off-Topic' thing again. I see...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The "senbiki" or the area that draws the line between an insult and a non insult will differ between multiple parties. This new policy will only cause chaos amongst those Karens who are ultra sensitive to anything that comes out of a non-manager's mouth.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So I guess we're all guilty of this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Scary stuff happening in Japan!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Pretty soon, the Japanese people may have to insult and curse out those politicians IN PERSON and straight IN THEIR FACES!!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Why, hello there 45-degree incline slippery slope, let me just put these roller blades in so I can slide down you even faster!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I'm very perplexed about this,yes there should be limits to offences in real or online and such harsh verbal violence should be perishable by the law,but the way the LDP delivered this taste more of mass controlling.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Prison work will no longer be mandatory for inmates, allowing more time to be allocated for rehabilitative guidance and education in efforts to reduce recidivism.

The establishment of the unified imprisonment law will take effect within three years of its promulgation. It marks the first time changes have been made for this type of punishment since the Penal Code was enacted in 1907.

Well, at least this article has some constructive news. Japan is slowly entering the 20th century, but still has a long way to go regarding the 21st century. With a re-offending rate of over 70%, it has taken a long time for Japan to work out that something is seriously wrong with the penal system.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

This is a welcomed minor clarification on an existing law !

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Does that include when someone calls one a moron for not wanting to get the vax?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Does that include when someone calls one a moron for not wanting to get the vax?

Do you think it should?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

This is a welcomed minor clarification on an existing law !

Not minor. It triples the penalties. Will only be used I think as a reactive punishment as usual.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They could make a few more minor but important changes ! ie: No fake names ! Too many people toss around insults , patently false statements, and so on! Time to unmask the online bullies in real time! People would either learn how to disagree with others without making personal attacks….. or not …. Makes me wonder what or who people are hiding from …. Perhaps their wife, husband , partner..:. Their job if they have one …. The law …. Let the unmasking begin!

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Giving power to censor to the government, or to shadow entities, it a completely horrid idea. It would lead to arbitrary power being used on entirely innocent people.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Elvis

It’s an interesting question whether slapping the spammers/sock puppets around online should be regarded as an insult.

My take is no.

I think it should be regarded as a sport although you do need a decent class of spammer to make it competitive.

Decent spammers are very hard to come by. We are all too aware of that on this forum.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Japan has a lot of vicious cyber bullying by brave keyboard warriors, and a lot of suicides. Their harassment, their hate, becomes fixated and frenetic.

On the other hand, death has always been an option close at hand here as a way out of an unhappy situation.

When Hana Kimura could take it no longer and committed suicide, the two guys probably woke from their mindless vendetta and wondered what on earth they had been doing. Others had also been sending her similar messages to go off and die.

The law saw the connection between their constant slagging off and the death of this sweet, lovely person, but the maximum penalty available on the books was not even one lousy 10,000 yen note.

This law must surely be an attempt to address what is a particularly serious problem here in Japan.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Japan's political parties who voted in favor of this problematic law have hated fundamental human rights or freedom of expression or press freedom.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

There is a very poor understanding of free speech here, and increasingly so in the west too. Everyone I talk to here unquestioningly agrees that Hate Speech should be outlawed and punished. When I ask them to define it, they just say, 'So you think it's OK to blast Korean kids at Korean schools with vile insults?', which is not what I was saying at all. Ill-defined laws are extremely dangerous. In the end, anyone who claims to have been emotionally hurt by another person will be able to have them locked away.

In my childhood, there was a common saying, 'Sticks and stones shall break my bones, but words will never hurt me'. A 15-year-old girl in my class the other broke down in tears for 10 minutes when I asked her this question in the textbook: 'How often do you eat sushi?' because she couldn't answer. We really need to focus on toughening kids up rather than mollycoddling them. Imagine what will happen when this girl encounters a real conflict in her life...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Elvis is hereToday  03:36 pm JST

Let's say, hypothetically of course, that someone is purposely being obnoxious and trolling under a fake name on an ongoing bases. If they get offended by comments they received because of the attention they have generated because of the said behaviour, I don't think anyone is going to feel much sympathy for them if they state their case.

I will submit an answer to your hypothetical.

According to the article, it would not matter whether or not the person(s) you describe is offended; what would matter is if the comments made to that person(s) are deemed insults--words that publicly demean that person(s) without referring to a specific action.

Imagine hypothetically a poster became highly irate, and had his account scrubbed at his request after becoming upset at factual information posted, to which that poster became offended, and apparently could not handle the reality of such facts as they contradicted that poster's fervent beliefs.

Posting such facts would not be considered an insult and would not be punishable under Japanese law.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Japanese culture is not good at dealing with uncomfortable facts and uncomfortable truths. That I think is the problem here. One thing I was told when I was very young was, that if you keep brushing it under the carpet, the carpet will eventually start to smell bad.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Elvis is hereToday  04:56 pm JST

Smashing stuff! Thanks champ for taking time out to submit your answer.

My sincere pleasure.

This is the Painkiller.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Would " nincompoop" be considered an insult?

Hopefully not when directed at a politician. But is it not a different matter if directed at a young child with some kind of learning difficulty? Is it perhaps possible to distinguish between an insult based on someone's opinions or actions and "baseless" insults. So just publicly expressing an opinion leaves you open to insults (oh dear). But publicly calling the kid round the corner an idiot is a different matter.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Does that include when someone calls one a moron for not wanting to get the vax?

Really depends upon whether truth is still an absolute defense or not.

But seriously, one really wonders how this new law can exist with Article 21 of the Japanese Constitution:

"Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed. No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated."

Giving the govt permission to punish online speech that does not threaten harm and/ or violating the secrecy of online speech (I am assuming by forcing the provider to provide identifying data) would SEEM to be unconstitutional on its face.

On the other hand, vote descrepancies between the rural and urban areas have been ruled unconstitional multiple times to no avail, so......

0 ( +3 / -3 )

In other news, Japan is heading for economic collapse . . . But sure, internet meanies should be put in jail. Ill probably get locked up for this post.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

There needs to be a guideline that makes a distinction on what qualifies as an insult. For example, at the moment, even if someone calls the leader of Japan an idiot, then maybe under the revised law that could be classed as an insult.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What about off-line, physical bullying in schools and workplaces? Such behavior unpunished could lead to drastic revenge behavior by the bully victims, further hurting many others.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Intended to protect vulnerable and young from cyber bullying, the wording is important as some take offense at the slightest thing, (look at how NK reacts to almost everything) There needs to be checks and balances.

May be aplicable for domestic instances but online is world wide and Japans laws are good only for Japanese or those in Japans jurisdiction.

Plenty of flaws in things like this but any honest assistance to stamp out bullying online is to be supported when they manage to get something right. This may not yet be right, but it is something being put forward to try.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Does that mean we can't criticize LDP politicians?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

How does this not go against article 21 ?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How does this not go against article 21 ?

How indeed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I hope this website keeps the identities of posters confidential, encrypted and protected by a firewall. 

If the police demand that a user be identified, this site will have to comply. And, if I had to guess, I would guess this is not a difficult site to hack. If they haven't been hacked to date, it's most likely because it's not a juicy target. You should assume that no site is safe. Be wary of providing any information you don't want to be made public.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

From now on everyone must criticise in a polite manner, must have a degree of intelectual written expression wich only comes with education, wich is to understand as rude and stupid people watch your comments or else you can pay for it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Surely there should be parity between online and offline. Are people jailed for offline insults in Japan? Will they be? An insult is an insult, whether delivered digitally or verbally.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

An insult is an insult, whether delivered digitally or verbally.

Is it not more about the audience than the delivery? For example, my local supermarket has a notice board where people can post information. Typically, it's details of some local event. But what if someone posted, "Albaleo is a two-faced ignorant liar and shouldn't be allowed to live here." I think that's a little different from someone saying the same thing to his mates in a pub. Luckily (for me) the supermarket vets all notices. And I guess that's the issue with social media where vetting is not so easy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Not coping too well with growing criticism I guess.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Actually makes me think it might be time to take my tax money elsewhere. Getting creepy now.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Getting creepy now.

Indeed. Well, it is nothing really new. I remember reading about a case in 1986 or 1987 concerning Japanese lady suing and winning damages against her ex foreign boyfriend who had given her a piece of his mind. He was sued for "not understanding the culture of Japan".

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

This has got to be the single most autocratic law of recent. All because post Gen X folks allow words to affect them. Sticks and stones people.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

All insults posted online will be reviewed by Fax and the proper application at city hall. Please bring your inkan as well. ;)

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

So if I, as a red-blooded Irishman, raised with a dry sense of humour, speak my mind, I'm going to jail and getting a fine? It'll be worth it if it means standing by my right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech! Obviously hate speech is one thing and should be addressed accordingly. But where do you draw the line and define what is and isn't hate speech?

If I want to call these politicians buffoons, I will, because they are.

People need to grow a thicker skin and stop allowing WORDS to upset them!!

As other posters have said - it's just another law that will stop politicians and the like from being insulted in an effort to polish their image further. Well, you can polish a turd but it's still a turd!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Yes, good thing for all on both ends.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

""Prison work will no longer be mandatory for inmates, allowing more time to be allocated for rehabilitative guidance and education in efforts to reduce recidivism.""

Forced labor!? Inmates should be allowed to do some activities like art and crafts if they WISH to do so, many are talented and enjoy doing what they love to do and in many cases it helps them heal.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@NemoJune 14 06:10 pm JST

Really depends upon whether truth is still an absolute defense or not.

Truth has never been an absolute defense in Japan. It's Truth + Public Interest.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I mean doing something about online harassment is definitely needed. Keyboard tough guys hiding behind the anonymity of the internet is out of control in essentially every part of the world. Especially in cases that lead to self harm, violence, and other clearly negative results, people should be held responsible. Especially among juveniles given how many bullies we see there.

the extremely weak punishment of this feels insulting though. Not to mention politicians saying “well if we do this and I say something wrong I’ll get in trouble” I know the LDP only sees themselves but that’s a hilariously stupid thing to admit to knowing that your group is likely to be the first called out.

tossing out “well if I call someone dumb can I get arrested “ is a really stupid way of looking at it that won’t happen and we know it and it takes away from the argument to act on an issue.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Soon Free Speech will not be so Free.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

WOW there goes chatting or posting because anything you write will become offensive in one way or another. Total censorship!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The law addresses bullying, yet some poeple seem to have interpreted this as being restrictive.

I wonder why they think that?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some of the comments on this article are pretty sensible but many of them sound über paranoid.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Like many laws in Japan, they exist simply as convenient tools to be enforced only when the powers that be judge that they need to be. Prostitution, gambling, "obscene" pornography, etc. All technically illegal due to ambiguity in the word of law... and yet rampant everywhere.

In Japan, social problems like bullying are quite often not even considered or treated as actual problems until something becomes an inconvenience to someone in power / the authorities... Often as the result of 国民感情 (national sentiment) shoving it in their face long and hard enough for them to... feel the need to save (their) face.

And then "Oh, look at that! How convenient. There is already a law we can use to just apprehend the person / people!" ...and sweep the issue out of the public eye ASAP.

TLDR; This law will have no effect on anyone that isn't going out of their way to harm someone. In fact, it will also likely have little effect at all... EVEN on those that do harbor such malicious intent.

With that said, wishful thinking would hope that it at least works at some level as a "Deterrence."

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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