Shin-Okubo, a district in Tokyo with a high concentration of ethnic Korean residents, has been suffering from anti-Korean protests by some extremely racist citizen groups in recent years. Despite the enormous popularity of Korean pop culture such as music, drama, and beauty products among Japanese, extremist hate speech appears to be helping heighten arch rival sentiments between two of the United States 2019 closest Asian allies. According to Norikoe Net, a group working to overcome hate speech and racism in Japan, there were 360 hate speech demonstrations and propagation in 2013, both online and offline. From their investigation in February this year, 53 hate speech scribbles on walls were found on the streets of Shin-Okubo. Another group of volunteers plans to take collective action on March 2, 2014 to erase the hateful graffiti using 20 erasers provided by a local ward office.

Success Achieved

The tide of anti-Korean protest in Shin-Okubo also triggered a push-back from anti-hate speech demonstrators who protested against the hate-speech protests, showing messages like "let us all be friends or shame on you racist".
In October 2013, responding to a lawsuit filed by Kyoto Chosen Gakuen, an operator of pro-Pyongyang Korean schools in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward, a local court in Kyoto ruled against anti-Korean group Zaitokukai, saying that the words blared through sound trucks near a pro-Pyongyang elementary school were "extremely insulting and discriminatory."
Various groups and citizens have joined the anti-anti-Korean protest to send out positive messages. But in some cases, this resulted in arrests after police tried to avoid any conflict between both the sides.

Challenges Faced

However, there’s no legal measure against hate speech in Japan. The Japanese Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, assembly, and freedom of thought, all of which make room for anti-Korean demonstrators to organize protests. Also, there is no law that directly bans graffiti. For the act of scribbling on other people’s properties, an offender can be arrested under Minor Criminal Offense Act, or for vandalism. In some rare cases, it is treated as a crime of damaging a building.

Lessons Learnt

The anti-Korean protesters are variously referred with qualifiers like Japanese patriots, "right-leaning" or "conservative" in English media, but they are different from conventional post-war Japanese right wingers, or from patriots with political right wing aesthetics. In a live-streamed interview, a journalist who investigates netouyou, a general term for hyper-nationalistic Japanese Web users, exposed that netouyo are inclined to reinforce their patriotism just by blasting racial slurs against ethnic Koreans in Japan.

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