The Kawasaki municipal government presented Friday draft guidelines aimed at eradicating hate speech in public spaces, the first effort of its kind in Japan.
According to the draft, Kawasaki authorities can reject or revoke permission to use facilities such as parks and community centers when they “recognize specific risks of unjust discriminatory acts or language based on objective facts.”
The guidelines stipulate the local authority can strike down a request or cancel permission to use public facilities if planned activities would cause extreme trouble to people using the areas or venues.
The city government tabled the draft proposal to an assembly committee, and after soliciting public comment for one month, it plans to finalize the guidelines in November, aiming for them to go into force from next March.
To ensure fairness and transparency in the city’s decisions, the proposal underlined the need for the Kawasaki government to seek in advance the opinion of a third-party experts’ panel to be established by the local authority.
A Justice Ministry survey found 1,152 rallies were conducted by hate-speech groups in the period from April 2012 to September 2015 across the nation. In those demonstrations, Japanese far-right groups are often seen to hurl racist abuse, often targeting minorities.
In June last year in Kawasaki, southwest of Tokyo, about 20 participants of a rally against ethnic Koreans were surrounded by hundreds of citizens voicing their opposition to the opinions being espoused, prompting organizers to call it off.
Last December, the city’s human rights promotion body urged Kawasaki Mayor Norihiko Fukuda to draw up the guidelines and an ordinance to fight discrimination.