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Man pleads not guilty over hate speech against pro-Pyongyang school in Kyoto

KYOTO -- A former member of the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai pleaded not guilty to defamation charges over alleged hate speech against a pro-Pyongyang Korean school during the first hearing of his trial at the Kyoto District Court on Sept. 4.

The defense said former Zaitokukai Kyoto branch head Hitoshi Nishimura, 50, had made legitimate criticism based on true facts. The group's name is short for Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Association of citizens against special privileges of Korean residents in Japan).

According to the indictment, in April 2017 Nishimura made remarks such as, "Korean schools have kidnapped Japanese," via a loudspeaker at a park near the former site of Kyoto chosen daiichi elementary school in Kyoto's Minami Ward. He allegedly defamed school operator Kyoto Chosen Gakuen, by streaming live online his approximately 10-minute speech and other actions.

The prosecution pointed out that Nishimura repeatedly made statements based on false facts such as, "The principal (of the Korean school) is on an international wanted list."

Nishimura admitted he made the statements, but explained, "I wasn't harassing Kyoto chosen daiichi elementary school. I criticized all Korean schools managed under the (pro-Pyongyang) General Association of Korean Residents in Japan."

(Japanese original by Yoko Kunimoto, Kyoto Bureau)

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