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Kawasaki looks at guidelines for regulating hate speech campaigns in advance

KAWASAKI, Kanagawa -- The municipal government here is considering setting guidelines for regulating hate speech campaigns targeted at specific ethnic groups prior to such events actually taking place.

Kawasaki Mayor Norihiko Fukuda said he will determine the basic direction of regulations on such campaigns by autumn next year in response to recommendations made by the city's council on the promotion of human rights protection measures on Dec. 27.

"I am taking the proposals seriously and am launching work to draw up guidelines as specific policy measures by the end of my current term (in November 2017)," he said.

If realized, Kawasaki will be the first Japanese local government to implement regulations in advance of hate speech campaigns.

A report submitted by the panel to the mayor states that the municipal government can refuse to allow any individual or organization to use municipal facilities such as parks if it is objectively deemed that they could take discriminatory actions at such places. It urges the municipal government to work out guidelines covering permission for the use of city facilities. The report also advises the city to set up a third-party panel that will be tasked to judge whether such regulations could infringe on freedom of assembly and expressions guaranteed by the Constitution.

Moreover, the report recommends that the municipal government cooperate with the local legal affairs bureau of the Justice Ministry in requesting the removal of online hate speech campaigns and enact an ordinance aimed at protecting overall human rights in the city.

In May this year, the municipal government refused to give permission to a man who had repeatedly staged hate speech campaigns to use a city park following the enactment of the anti-hate speech law.

At the time, however, concerns were raised that the city's decision could infringe on freedom of assembly and expressions, prompting Mayor Fukuda to ask the council to deliberate on anti-hate speech measures.

In July, an ordinance aimed at deterring hate speech campaigns, the first of its kind, fully came into force in Osaka. However, the ordinance provides for only ex-post facto responses to hate speech demonstrations, such as disclosure of the names of individuals and organizations confirmed to have held such rallies.

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