“Hana’s law” passes Japanese parliament

“Hana’s law” passes Japanese parliament

The Japanese parliament has passed new legislation that provides more serious penalties for cyberbullying.

New amendment to the penal code passed the House of Councillors on Monday, 13 June. They now include up to one year in prison for online insults.

The changes amend the penalty for online insults, which were previously punishable by “detention for less than 30 days” or “a fine of less than 10,000 yen.”

The legislation has unofficially been referred to as ‘Hana’s law’, named after the late Hana Kimura, a professional wrestler and reality television star on Fuji TV’s Terrace House.

Ms Kimura passed away on 23 May, 2020 after experiencing harassment on social media.

Japanese author, journalist, and sociologist Fumi Saito told Insights that there was more work to be done.

“They are not officially calling it Hana’s law, but in my mind it’s Hana’s law,” Mr Saito said.

“Kyoko Kimura has been on many news programs lately. We still don’t know a lot of details about this new law. Or they are still working on details as to how cyber bullying and discriminating language can be punished online. It’s just a beginning. I hope it’s a good beginning.”

Two people were convicted for criminal defamation towards Kimura, and were fined 9,000 yen (or $95 AUD). 

Ms Kimura’s mother, retired professional wrestler Kyoko Kimura, has campaigned for changes to the law since shortly after her daughter’s passing.

Hana Kimura was well regarded by the wrestling industry. On 4 January, she appeared in the opening match for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom, one of the biggest shows in the Japanese wrestling calendar. In April 2019, she wrestled in ‘the world’s most famous arena’ Madison Square Garden.

Due to concerns about freedom of expression, the laws will be reviewed in three years’ time.

In Australia, cyberbullying is covered by the Communications Act, which makes it unlawful to use a carriage service in a way that reasonable persons would regard as menacing, harassing, or offensive.

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