CNN is reporting that Japan passed a new cyberbullying law on Monday that makes “online insults” punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of up to 300,000 yen (equal to about $2,200). This is in response to the passing of Hana Kimura in 2020.
Kimura took her own life after being the victim of online abuse as a result of the way she was portrayed in Terrace House on Netflix. The new bill has stirred up some controversy, as some believe it infringes on freedom of speech. The law defines online abuse as “publicly demeaning someone’s social standing without referring to specific facts about them or a specific action.”
This differs from defamation, which is also illegal in Japan and is defined as “publicly demeaning someone while pointing to specific facts.” The law will go into effect this summer, with the clause that it will be reexamined in three years to gauge how it affects freedom of expression.
Japan-based criminal lawyer Seiho Cho told CNN, “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.”