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Japan’s new law makes ‘online insults’ punishable by up to a year in prison

Online bullying is a problem plaguing the world in the age of social media and Japan has taken strong steps to address the issue. The country’s parliament on Monday passed a law that makes “online insults” punishable by a fine or even imprisonment. The decision was taken by authorities to tackle online bullying after a reality TV star who suffered online abuse died of suicide. Under the new legislation, those found guilty of online bullying or insults can be jailed for up to a year or fined 300,000 yen (about $2,200), according to Reuters. Previously, the penalty was 30 days’ imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 yen ($75). But, amid growing public concern, tougher measures have been taken by the Japanese government.

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However, the legislation also created a lot of outcry among citizens as many saw it as an attack on free speech and a criticism of the government. The main concern was the process by which “online insults” will be determined by authorities and how they can easily be misused.

“There must be a guideline that makes a distinction on what is considered an insult. For example, at the moment, even if someone calls the leader of Japan an idiot, then maybe under of the revised law, it could be called an insult,” Seiho Cho, a Japan-based criminal lawyer, told CNN.

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The authorities have also indicated that the law will be reviewed every three years by a special council.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 8:05pm on Friday June 24th, 2022