Japan makes insulting people online punishable by up to 1 year in jail

·2-min read
Japan National Diet Building legislature parliament house Kokkai-gijido springtime Tokyo
Japan National Diet Building legislature parliament house Kokkai-gijido springtime TokyoGetty Images
  • Japanese parliament passed legislation Monday that would make online insults punishable by up to one year in jail.

  • The move comes after a popular Japanese reality TV star died by suicide.

  • The bill will be re-examined in three years to determine its effect on society.

Japan's parliament passed new legislation on Monday that will make "online insults" punishable by up to one year in jail.

The move to amend the country's penal code is set to take effect later this summer. Under the new legislation, those convicted of making online insults can be punished by up to one year in jail or be fined 300,000 yen, or $2,200, CNN reported.

Offenders previously faced fewer than 30 days of detention and a fine of 10,000 yen, or $75. The new legislation will also extend the statute of limitations from one year to three years.

The Japan Times reported that the legislation comes two years after Hana Kimura, a 22-year-old wrestler and star of Netflix's reality show "Terrace House," died by suicide. The Japan Times reported that Kimura had received multiple hateful online messages before her death.

The new legislation has been controversial in Japan, with lawmakers trying to find a balance between free speech and hate speech online, the Japan Times reported.

CNN reported that the bill only passed with a caveat — that it be re-examined in three years to determine its effect on society.

Under Japan's penal code, insults and defamation are considered two different crimes. Japan's Ministry of Justice told CNN that an insult publicly demeans a person without referring to specific facts or actions. Defamation, however, alleges facts about a person, the penal code says.

It remains unclear, though, to what degree insults will be considered punishable under the new law, the Japan Times reported.

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