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'Japan First' leader's remarks against Korean school children recognized as hate speech

The Fukuoka Legal Affairs Bureau homepage is seen in this screen capture.

KITAKYUSHU -- A 2019 election campaign speech held near a Korean school in the southwest Japan city of Kitakyushu by the leader of the Japan First Party has been recognized as hate speech by the Fukuoka Legal Affairs Bureau in a report given to the school dated Aug. 26.

    The decision to label the speech given by Makoto Sakurai, the 48-year-old former chair of the "association of residents who reject the special privileges of Zainichi Koreans" as hate speech came after a complaint of human rights infringement was made by the Kyushu Korean Junior and Senior High School.

    According to the complaint, Sakurai gave a March 11, 2019, speech as part of his campaign as the Japan First Party candidate for the Fukuoka Prefectural Assembly in front of JR Orio Station, which is situated close to the school, while students were going to school. He is reported to have said, "Of course you should all be told to get out of Japan," and, "Koreans are dangerous. There are Koreans right in front of you here who put up the portrait of Kim Jong-un, and shout 'Manse' (Banzai)," among other critical statements. A video of the speech was uploaded and released online.

    According to the Fukuoka Legal Affairs Bureau, the actions of the Japan First Party were recognized as constituting hate speech as it is described in the hate speech elimination law. The bureau advised Sakurai of their decision, but he reportedly responded by saying he would "not cooperate."

    The bureau also said that it "does not recognize that any particular person was specifically affected," and said that it was "unclear" whether there had been a human rights infringement. The director of Fukuoka Korean Gakuen, which runs the school and others in the area, said, "It's a first step to recognize it as hate speech, but is the mental hurt the children received not equivalent to a human rights violation?"

    (Japanese original by Hiroya Miyagi, Kyushu News Department)

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