Japan imposes jail terms for online insults

Anyone who badly insults other people via the Internet in Japan can even go to prison for it.

As of today , insults over the Internet will be prosecuted much more severely in Japan . A law passed in the summer, which is now coming into force, also threatens fines of up to 300,000 yen (2,160 euros); before that, the fine was only 10,000 yen (72 euros). In three years, the law is to be put to the test again to find out whether it restricts the right to freedom of expression. Critics of the law had raised these concerns in advance. Proponents, on the other hand, hope that the law will reduce cyberbullying in Japan.

Concrete case as reason for the law

However, the law does not clearly describe what counts as an insult. The insult is only defined as “humiliation of the other person without concrete facts about the person”. Accordingly, insulting a Japanese politician as an idiot could already fall under the law. The bill came after reality TV star Hana Kimura committed suicide. The reason for the suicide was insults on the Internet. The actress and wrestler died in May 2020 from a hydrogen sulfide overdose. Previously, she was showered with negative news online for her participation in the Japanese reality TV show “Terrace House”.

individual cases in court

However, courts will still have to clarify in individual cases what is considered an insult and what is not. The extent to which the law can actually curb insults on the Internet remains questionable. The law must be reviewed again in three years at the latest. It remains exciting to see how many cases have accumulated in the courts by then.

Verdict: Emojis can also be considered an insult

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