Japanese lawmaker suggests hate speech bill may be used on anti-US military protesters in Okinawa

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Japanese lawmaker suggests hate speech bill may be used on anti-US military protesters in Okinawa

by: Eric Johnston | .
Japan Times, Tokyo | .
published: April 28, 2016

OSAKA, Japan (Tribune News Service) — A Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker has indicated that under a bill now being debated, large groups of people who shouted for U.S. military forces in Okinawa Prefecture to get out of Japan might find themselves accused of engaging in hate speech.

Takashi Nagao, a Lower House member from Osaka Prefecture, spoke in a video address on YouTube earlier this month. The LDP-backed bill’s provisional name translates roughly as “The Bill to Promote Measures for the Elimination of Unjust Racial Statements Toward People From Outside Japan.”

It apparently aims to protect people who were born in other countries and their descendants who live legally in Japan, and people who hold to other regions, from discriminatory comments.

Nagao identified several areas in Okinawa as a problem.

“What we’re doing with the bill we support is declaring that (the comments and actions) of large groups of people, or those on the Internet, not one person, who shout ‘Get out!’ ” are unforgivable, Nagao said.

However, the bill does not go so far as to actually ban such statements. Rather, it points to setting up educational and other efforts to help prevent further hate speech. The LDP believes that hate speech can be largely dealt with under existing laws.

The bill would also put at least some of the burden for dealing with so-called hate speech on local governments.

In January, Osaka became the nation’s first city to pass an ordinance designed to curb hate speech, though it does little more than publicly name and shame those who the city judges to have made discriminatory comments.

In Okinawa, pro-base residents and others have long complained that some elements of the anti-base movement engage in hate speech toward U.S. military personnel and their families. There is as yet no clear legal definition of hate speech in Japan.

©2016 the Japan Times (Tokyo)
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