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Kawasaki assembly passes Japan's 1st ordinance punishing hate speech

Kawasaki municipal headquarters is seen in this March 5, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Kazuo Ichimura)

KAWASAKI -- The city assembly here on Dec. 12 passed an ordinance to slap fines of up to 500,000 yen (about $4,600) on anyone using hate speech targeting particular ethnic groups in public spaces.

The ordinance will fully come into force on July 1, 2020, and is the first local regulation in Japan specifying criminal penalties over the deep-rooted social problem. The ordinance forbids hate speech conducted using a loudspeaker, holding up a placard, and distributing flyers, among other methods.

The penal provisions target three actions: promoting or instigating others to demand that people from specific countries or regions, or their descendants, be evicted from their residential areas; threatening to or inciting others to threaten to harm the lives, honor, or property of the members of a target group; and gravely insulting them by comparing them to anything non-human.

If the violator does not follow advisories or orders from the mayor to desist, and repeats the offense three times, the city government will file a complaint with investigative authorities under the procedures laid out by the ordinance.

(Japanese original by Kazuo Ichimura, Kawasaki Bureau)

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