In Japan, social media users might get prison time for insulting others. The new plan is an effort by the government to combat “cyberbullying.”
An advisory panel for the Japanese Ministry of Justice greenlit a plan to “introduce prison terms as part of tougher penalties for online insults in Japan,” reported Kyodo News.
Currently, Japan has laws punishing online insults with “detention for less than 30 days or a fine of less than 10,000 yen ($89).”
If the ministry’s new plan becomes law, cyberbullying will be punishable by a one-year prison sentence and the fine will be raised to 300,000 yen. Additionally, the statute of limitations for online insults will be increased to three years, from one year.
According to Kyodo News, the most recent high-profile incident of cyberbullying involved Hana Kimura. In May 2020, Kimura, a second-generation professional wrestler, was found dead in her house, in what was later ruled to be a suicide. She committed suicide after “a barrage of hateful messages on social media triggered by her appearance on the popular Netflix reality show [Terrace House], which has since been canceled.”
Social media posts the 22-year-old posted immediately before her death implied she had been bullied. USA Today reported: “In disturbing tweets that have since been deleted and translated, Kimura alluded to suffering from online bullying, and wrote that she did not ‘want to be a human anymore,’ and ‘wanted to be loved.’”
“Kimura also posted photos of what appeared to be self-harm,” the report added.
On May 19 this year, a court fined a man 1.29 million yen ($12,000) for posting “hateful messages about her after her death,” that caused “emotional distress” to Kimura’s family.