Asia - Pacific

Japan eyes jail time as part of stricter penalties for cyberbullying

Draft law proposes prison term of up to 1 year, hiking fine from current maximum of less than $90 to over $2,600

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 22.10.2021
Japan eyes jail time as part of stricter penalties for cyberbullying

ISTANBUL

Grappling with rising cases of cyberbullying, Japan is moving ahead with plans to introduce tougher penalties for online abuse.

The country’s Justice Ministry said a draft law that proposes a prison term of up to one year and a fine of up to 300,000 yen (approximately $2,630) was approved by an expert panel on Thursday, Kyodo News reported.

The government also wants to extend the statute of limitations for such cases from one year to three years. The draft will now be reviewed by the ministry before being presented for parliamentary approval.

Currently, people convicted of cyberbullying face a maximum jail sentence of 30 days and a fine of 10,000 yen ($87), penalties that have been criticized as being too lenient to curb the growing menace.

Japan has witnessed several high-profile cases of deaths due to cyberbullying, including that of Hana Kimura, a 22-year-old professional wrestler and cast member on the popular Netflix reality show “Terrace House.”

Kimura died by suicide in May last year after she was targeted with hundreds of hateful messages online from around 200 accounts.

Her death shocked the country and calls for stricter penalties for online abuse grew louder after two men were fined just 9,000 yen ($80) in the case.

After Kimura’s death, American web services provider Yahoo announced in December that it would remove “hateful and defamatory” content posted online in Japan.

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