A district court in Kyoto has banned an anti-Korean group from holding "hate speech" rallies outside a Korean school there and ordered the group to pay the school 12.3 million yen in damages. It was the first court decision in Japan recognizing the illegality of hate speech.
Anti-Korean group Zaitokukai has around 13,800 members, nine of whom held three protests in front of a Korean school in Kyoto from December 2009 to March 2010 using loudhailers to chant slogans calling for Koreans to leave Japan and accusing the students of "smelling like kimchi" and being "children of (North Korean) spies."
A school official said the rallies affected classes and students complained of stomach pains. The school filed a lawsuit against the group seeking to ban it from holding rallies within 200 m of its grounds as well as 30 million yen in damages.
The court ruled that repeating hateful comments aimed at a particular ethnic group constitutes racism.
The Japanese government has refrained from cracking down on Zaitokukai as long as they did not cause physical harm, citing the absence of laws prohibiting hate speech. The group has recently been holding rallies chanting "Kill Koreans."
The latest court ruling is expected to lead to other lawsuits targeting the group. Zaitokukai plan to appeal the ruling, claiming that it denies their right to free speech.