TOKYO -- Hate speech and libelous remarks and questions submitted by the public to the Cabinet Office's Public Relations Office, which aimed to seek input from the public on government policies, have been allowed to appear on the office's website, it has been learned.
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The Public Relations Office had posted a warning on its site stating that "comments that are defamatory, discriminatory or otherwise inappropriate will not be posted publicly even if they are submitted," yet such posts have effectively gone unchecked.
Among the comments inciting xenophobia and hate that appeared on the site last year is one from a self-proclaimed man in his 50s from Oita Prefecture, who wrote, "Shouldn't Japan cut off diplomatic ties with South Korea and forcibly remove Zainichi Korean residents of Japan and former Korean nationals who became naturalized Japanese citizens from Japan?" The same year, a man allegedly from Kanagawa Prefecture, also in his 50s, posted, "It is likely that welfare benefits being provided to foreign nationals are illegal, so such measures must be halted immediately without exception. Meanwhile, in 2013, a man supposedly in his 40s from Osaka Prefecture posted, "... former Prime Minister (Yukio) Hatoyama should be executed for instigating foreign threats."
The system calling for public input on government policies, which was launched in June 1962, allows members of the public to submit their views, which government ministries and agencies then take into account when drawing up policies. The process used to be conducted through the postal system, but was transferred over to the internet in fiscal 2012. Since then, hate speech and far-right views have been seen on the site. Since other government sites calling for public input have gone online, the commenting site run by the Cabinet Office's Public Relations Office has not been updated since April of last year, but the posts can still be viewed.
"It's problematic if the Cabinet Office didn't check the comments, and it's also hugely problematic if the Cabinet Office checked the comments and still posted them on the site, since that means they're approving those views," journalist Daisuke Tsuda said.
Meanwhile, a government public relations official said, "I believe the people in charge of the comment submissions were checking the contents, and they probably chose to respect the opinions that were expressed. I don't have a full picture of the situation yet, so I'd like to confirm the facts."
(Japanese original by Kenichi Omura, General Digital News Center)