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Yoroku: Where are the protectors of 'justice'?

In the wake of the Kumamoto earthquakes that struck in April 2016, a certain female entertainer whose home sustained damage wrote in her blog that she lacked resources.

"If only I had enough to live normally," she wrote. The post provoked an onslaught of slander online, with one person telling her, "You're not the only one who wants to grumble." Shocked, the entertainer abandoned updates of her blog for some time.

Though she wasn't at all at fault, netizens attacked her in the name of "justice." This kind of response is known as "hunting the imprudent," and it seems to be a common thing these days.

Another incident with similar overtones occurred recently in the Kanagawa Prefecture city of Odawara, where welfare workers created jackets that bore the words "hogo namenna" (don't make light of welfare) among other phrases. Workers wore the jackets when they visited people's homes. The back of the garments bore the English words, "We are 'the justice' and must be justice," and, "Finding injustice of them, we chase them and punish injustice to accomplish the proper execution. If they try to deceive us for gaining a profit by injustice, 'We dare to say, they are dregs!'"

It is impermissible, of course, for people to illicitly receive welfare payments, but it was unusual to see the workers who support people on welfare appearing to put pressure on citizens.

The internet is filled with hateful online posts attacking the weak. Last year, a freelance announcer wrote in a blog, "Make all dialysis patients, who have themselves to blame, pay their actual costs! If they cry and say it's impossible then just kill them!" The so-called "justice" in this case was decreasing the burden on state finances. The announcer was forced to step down from a regular spot on a program, but there were more than a few people who agreed with what the announcer had said.

It is dangerous for the meaning of "justice" to change and for people to use "justice" to reduce their frustrations. This is not just the fault of the internet; it may be because society has become unstable. In the past, a "friend of justice" on TV would stand up alone against the strong to protect the weak. ("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)

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