After the death of reality star Hana Kimura, Japan approves tougher penalties for defamation, including jail

After the death of reality star Hana Kimura, Japan approves tougher penalties for defamation, including jail

After the death of reality star Hana Kimura, Japan approves tougher penalties for defamation, including jail

Japan’s parliament on Monday passed tougher sentences for criminal defamation prompted by the suicide of a bullied wrestler, raising concerns over freedom of expression.

Parliamentary deliberations on tightening the defamation law began in January after Hana Kimura committed suicide at the age of 22.

Kimura faced harassment and insults on social media in 2020 after she appeared on “Terrace House,” a hugely popular reality show on Japan’s Fuji TV and Netflix, about three men and three women who temporarily lived together in a shared house in Tokyo. .

She became the target of hateful and vicious posts on social media after she was criticized for her performance in one of the episodes. Before committing suicide, she tweeted that she received about a hundred hateful messages every day and that she was hurt because of it.

Her death sparked a wave of discussion about anonymous bullying and hate speech. Fuji TV canceled the rest of the show’s scheduled production, saying the decision was to respond “sincerely” to the matter.

Stardom - No People Gate
Hana Kimura reacts during the Women’s Pro-Wrestling Stardom – No People Gate at Korakuen Hall on March 8, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

ETSUO HARA / Getty Images


At least two people were convicted of defaming Kimura, but their court-imposed fine — a 9,000 yen ($66) fine — sparked outrage among people who said the sentence was too light.

Kimura’s mother, Kyoko, also a famous professional wrestler, was a driving force behind the legal change. She testified before parliament in April, saying she was constantly faced with insults and accusations of using her daughter’s name to make money.

The amended law will be formally introduced later this year. It will add a one-year prison sentence with an option of hard labor and fines of up to 300,000 yen ($2,220) for convicted offenders – a change from only short-term detention and fines of less than 10,000 yen ($74) in the current law.

The legislation was approved Monday by the upper house after earlier approval in the lower house, the more powerful of Japan’s bicameral parliament. Due to concerns about freedom of expression, the law will be reviewed by outside experts in three years’ time.

suicides peaked in Japan in 2020 during the COVID pandemic, especially among women† In 2021, the suicide rate in the country fell slightly, according to data released in April, but the suicide rate among women rose for the second consecutive year

For immediate help if you find yourself in a crisis in the US, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All conversations are confidential.