Japan's ruling parties have submitted a bill to the current Diet session aiming to eliminate hate speech. On the Ministry of Justice's website, hate speech is defined as "discriminatory language and actions that reject the people of a particular ethnic group or nationality." Saying, "I don't like that person because they are mean," is simple badmouthing, but saying, "Get out of Japan, people of (such-and-such a country)" or, "The people of (such-and-such an ethnic group) are inferior" is hate speech.
Unfortunately, in recent years this kind of speech has been dispersed not only over the Internet, but on Japan's streets. Hate speech is a problem around the world, but Japan has lagged in responding to the issue. The ruling parties are now rising up to legislate measures against hate speech, and I'm all for celebrating this.
However, I still have worries. Under the ruling parties' bill, hate speech is considered "improper, discriminatory language and behavior that encourage the removal of people born in countries or territories outside Japan who are living lawfully." Of course language and actions falling under this definition are unforgivable, but hate speech in Japan is not only directed at "people born in countries or territories outside Japan."
For example, as someone from Hokkaido, I immediately think of the Ainu. The Ainu continue to be discriminated against in both employment and marriage, and it is not uncommon for them to be forced into an economically difficult lifestyle. Furthermore, lately there has been an increase in heartless comments directed at the Ainu, particularly online. There are even people who deny their existence, saying, "The Ainu people don't exist anymore."
Under the ruling parties' bill, the Ainu, who are Japan-born Japanese nationals, are not considered targets of hate speech. The bill is to be debated in the House of Councillors from here on, but I hope it can somehow be expanded to include "discrimination against any ethnic group or race."
Regardless, how can people say things like "get out" or "get lost" to their fellow humans in the first place? Why are the completely natural ideas that "discrimination is bad" and "everyone has human rights" no longer being followed? It's a shame that we must make a law to stop this, but since hate speech is actually being used widely, legal restrictions are unavoidable.
I have also had a patient come to my consultation room who was emotionally hurt by seeing a rally involving hate speech. I want people to remember that discrimination destroys the heart. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)