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Court bans planned anti-Korean hate speech rally in Kawasaki

Choi Kang-ija wipes away tears during a news conference in Kawasaki on June 2, 2016, after a provisional injunction to ban a hate speech rally was issued. (Mainichi)

KAWASAKI -- The Yokohama District Court's Kawasaki branch issued a provisional injunction on June 2 banning a scheduled hate speech-fueled rally from taking place within 500 meters of the office of a social welfare organization that supports Korean residents in the city.

The social welfare organization filed for the provisional injunction after a man announced online plans for a hate speech rally targeting Korean residents in the city as early as June 5. The man has been holding such rallies near the group's office, where many Koreans reside.

Presiding Judge Hidechika Hashimoto touched on the anti-hate speech legislation passed in the Diet last month, which took effect on June 3, and said hate-fueled rallies are illegal actions that violate personal rights. Furthermore, the judge ruled that if there is significant illegality in the action, it falls outside the scope of free speech and freedom of assembly guaranteed under the Japanese Constitution.

Hajime Kanbara, an attorney representing the organization, welcomed the ruling, saying that it was a groundbreaking, historic decision clarifying that hate speech demonstrations are illegal based on the recently passed anti-hate speech law.

The decision is believed to be the second in Japan to ban hate-fueled demonstrations, following a 2010 provisional injunction issued by the Kyoto District Court that ordered an anti-Korean group and others to stop hate speech rallies near a Korean school in Kyoto.

In the latest case, the court acknowledged that discriminatory remarks made by the man in the past "squarely deny the organization's activities and shake the foundations of the group's existence," and said a pre-event injunction is acceptable in cases where the scope of hate speech is significant. In addition, the court banned not only the use of sound trucks and speakers, but also the acts of shouting out hate speech and having a third party carry out such demonstrations.

The court did not specify a term for the injunction order.

The man had applied for a permission to use two parks in the city for the June 5 rally, but the Kawasaki Municipal Government rejected his application at the end of May. On June 1, the man applied with a local police station for a permission to use a road away from the location he had originally planned. About 10-50 people are expected to turn up, but an assembly is not planned on that day.

Choi Kang-ija, 42, a third-generation Korean resident in Japan and an employee of the social welfare organization, told reporters in a news conference after the court issued the injunction, "I'm happy to show local children that hate speech can be eliminated."

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