Japan toughens penalties for ‘online insults’ — Analysis
Japan’s parliament passed a new bill on Monday, toughening penalties for anyone found guilty of making “online insults.”Later this summer, the amended penal code will be in effect.
The new law allows for the making of “online insults”For a conviction, a prison sentence can be up to 1 year or a $2,200 fine. Prior to the changes, inmates were only subjected to a small fine of 10,000 yen, or about $75, and could be held for no more than 30 days. Also, the new law extends statute of limitations to one to three more years.
Japan was critical of the legislation as it attempted to crack down cyberbullying. Under Japan’s penal code, insults are defined quite vaguely and understood as a public way to demean one’s social standing without bringing up concrete facts. This offense is distinct from the crime of defamation. However, it must include certain facts in order to be considered as such.
Three years from the date of its effective, new legislation will be reviewed by lawmakers to determine if it has any effect on freedom to express oneself and, if necessary, to amend it.
These penalties are more severe “online insults”Two years ago, Hana Kimura committed suicide. Kimura took her life in May 2020 after a wave of cyberbullying she received due to her performance on Netflix’s ‘Terrace House’ show. While the case drew international attention to Japan’s cyberbulling issues, two men found guilty of targeting Kimura online got away with only minor fines.
Kimura’s mother, former professional wrestler Kyoko Kimura, who had set up the organization ‘Remember Hana’ to raise awareness about cyberbullying, praised the changes to the penal code, expressing hopes that they would ultimately lead to a more detailed legislation to tackle the issue.
“I want people to know that cyberbullying is a crime,”After the bill passed, she spoke at a press conference.
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