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2013年10月10日 (木)

ヘイトスピーチ 民族差別の言動を戒めた判決

The Yomiuri Shimbun October 10, 2013
Hate speech ruling laudable, but restrictions must be limited
ヘイトスピーチ 民族差別の言動を戒めた判決(10月9日付・読売社説)

The Kyoto District Court’s recent ruling on an ethnic discrimination case stated that a derogatory street campaign aimed at inciting ethnic discrimination constituted an unlawful act. The court decision can be seen as compatible with socially accepted moral norms.

On Monday, the district court ordered a citizens group that had repeatedly engaged in a street campaign around a Kyoto primary school for ethnic Koreans in Japan to pay about ¥12 million in compensation.

The group, known as Zaitoku-kai, had denounced the school for using a public park in its neighborhood without permission, insisting that the street campaign was intended to legitimately comment on the school’s conduct and express an opinion about the matter.

According to the ruling, Zaitoku-kai called Korean residents in Japan “cockroaches” during its street campaign, shouting, “Drive them out of Japan.” The court had good reason to conclude the group’s words were “discriminatory,” stating that its campaign could not be regarded as the act of expressing a legitimate opinion.

Monday’s sentence also ruled that Zaitoku-kai’s speech and behavior constituted “a case of ethnic discrimination, which is banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”

The order for Zaitoku-kai to pay a large amount of compensation did not only indicate the court had judged that the school had been defamed and suffered interference in the execution of its duties. The ruling also showed that the court had perceived the group’s conduct to be a flagrant example of discrimination against ethnic Koreans in Japan.

Zaitoku-kai has played a central role in staging anti-Korean demonstrations in Tokyo, Osaka and elsewhere. The group insists on rejecting South and North Korean residents in this country as members of our society. Its assertion has been repeated through what is called hate speech.

The speech and behavior of Zaitoku-kai demonstrators are said to have become even more radical since the summer of last year. The group stepped up its anti-Korean activities as tensions between Japan and South Korea rose, largely due to political leaders from the latter country visiting the Takeshima islets and condemning the Japanese government over the issue of so-called comfort women.

In recent months, several people were arrested in fights that arose between Zaitoku-kai and groups that oppose their anti-Korean street protests.

Enforce civility with caution

A clash of sentiments harbored by opposing groups can only breed hatred. They should speak and act in a manner that is free of nationalistic vitriol.

Meanwhile, caution must be exercised in restricting hate speech. This principle can also be applied to Monday’s ruling, which came down on the side of an educational corporation that runs the primary school for ethnic Korean children. The latest decision should not serve as an excuse for regulating the speech and behavior of an unlimited number of people and organizations.

The antidiscrimination treaty requires its signatory nations to place legal restraints on agitation and other activities aimed at fanning hatred between ethnic groups. Some European countries have laws setting punishments for such conduct.

However, it should be noted that when it comes to thinking about discrimination, Japan’s historical background greatly differs from that of Europe, where there still is a clear memory of the Holocaust perpe-trated by the Nazis.

The Japanese government has been cautious about laying down legal restraints on potentially discriminatory speech and behavior, wary that such legislation might infringe on freedom of expression, a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.

If such legal restrictions are in place, it would be difficult to draw a line between what is lawful and what is not. That could prompt public authorities to impose legal restrictions in a manner that would serve their own interests. There also is no denying that such legislation would discourage people from exercising their legitimate right to express their opinions. Given this, the government should adhere to its cautious stance on such legal restrictions.

A realistic approach that could be adopted by the government in this respect is to apply existing laws, such as a ban on defamation under the Penal Code, to cases of unacceptably discriminatory speech and conduct.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 9, 2013)
(2013年10月9日01時48分  読売新聞)


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