With all of the negativity in the world and the anonymity that the Internet provides trolls, many places like Kakao and Daum have abolished their comment sections and netizens have launched petitions, such as one demanding netizens use legal names for online postings in order to hold them accountable for their words after the tragic and untimely passing of Sulli.
Sometimes, hate speech isn’t limited to the Internet and can seep into real life, with people becoming desensitized to their own words or not caring enough about what they’re saying. Kawasaki, which borders Tokyo and is Japan’s 6th most populous city, has recently introduced a bill at a council meeting that would make the practice of hate speech illegal, and also come with a heavy fine.
Under the proposed law, anyone making inflammatory, discriminatory comments in public about people from a different country or area will first receive a warning from an office. Their second offense will lead to a cease and desist. If by then, the perpetrator hasn’t learned their lesson, they will be fined up to ¥500,000 (roughly $4,600 USD).
To promote the creation of a town that respects human rights so that all citizens are not subject to unfair discrimination, we will be attempting, with the consent of the public, to enact this ordinance and increase the civility of dialogue.
—Norihiko Fukada, Mayor of Kawasaki
Despite the fact that Japan’s Diet passed a nationwide law against hate speech three years ago, it hasn’t been much of a deterrent as there is no punishment for offenders. Kawasaki seeks to not only make hate speech illegal, but also a punishable crime.
The proposal will be voted on in December and would go into effect sometime in 2020.
Hopefully, the proposal is not only passed, but other parts of Japan follow Kawasaki’s lead, as it would make people accountable for their word and protect innocent people, both celebrities and non-celebrities, from abuse stemming from ignorance and malevolence.