Japan pushes cyberbullying law after death of Hana Kimura

28 May 2020

Written by: Yuto Ito

Communications minister says laws could be implemented this year if they work with a "sense of speed".

On Tuesday, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication Sanae Takaichi pledged to speed up government discussion around the cyberbullying legislation. This comes after the suicide of 22-year-old Hana Kimura, a cast member from the latest season of the Netflix reality TV show Terrace House. This was confirmed by her representatives, World Wonder Ring Stardom, the professional wrestling organisation.

Kimura received hateful comments on her Twitter and Instagram after she became upset at a male housemate on the popular TV show made her upset.

Takaichi said laws could be implemented this year if they work with a “sense of speed”.

“It’s necessary to properly implement procedures to disclose information on senders in order to curb online abuses and rescue victims,” she said.

On the same day, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) established a project team which discussed new rules to stop online abuse. Junko Mihara, the leader of the project, shared her condolences for those who have experienced online harassment and said that she would protect victims of cyberbullying by introducing a legislation.

Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, expressed his condolences for Kimura’s death on Monday.

“It is important to improve literacy on the internet so that users won’t use comments to hurt others with slander,” he said.

A group of social networking operators released a joint statement saying they would ban accounts which were caught acting against their new policy.

The General Incorporated Association “Social Media Usage Environment Improvement Organisation(SMAJ)” which is run by Twitter Japan, Facebook Japan, LINE, published a statement that they would prohibit user comments relating to defamation and harassment. But the definition of what those comments might be remains unclear.

Takaichi expressed her intent to legitimise the act of the enforcement on internet providers by this Summer. If the law is passed, the legislation could infringe on freedom of expression.

Former Buzz Feed Japan’s chief editor said that while the enforcement on harassment by platforms delayed, the government would strengthen a suppression on social media in response to the public sphere.


Photo from Hana Kimura’s Instagram.