Japan this week passed amended legislation that could land a person in jail for up to a year for posting online insults. Prior to now, those who ran afoul of the law could be put behind bars for up to 30 days and fined 10,000 yen (around $75 in US currency). The fine has been increased as well, to 300,00 yen (around $2,200).
As to what constitutes an insult under Japanese law, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice told CNN that it amounts to publicly demeaning someone’s social status without referring to specific facts about them or specific actions. It’s not the same as defamation, which is also illegal.
Some have praised the amended law while others have criticized it. One of the concerns is how broadly the definition of an insult will be applied.
“There needs to be a guideline that makes a distinction on what qualifies as an insult. For example, at the moment, even if someone calls the leader of Japan an idiot, then maybe under the revised law that could be classed as an insult,” Seiho Cho, a criminal lawyer in Japan, told the news outlet.
Meanwhile, Kimura’s mother praised the legislation, saying during a press conference that people need to “know that cyber bulling is a crime.”