By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) – The Japanese parliament on Monday passed tougher sentences for criminal defamation in a measure provoked by the suicide of a harassed fighter who is causing problems of freedom of expression.
Parliamentary deliberations to tighten the defamation law began in January after Hana Kimura committed suicide at the age of 22.
Kimura suffered harassment and insults on social media in 2020 after appearing on Netflix’s “Terrace House” program about three men and three women temporarily living together in a shared house in Tokyo.
His death sparked a wave of discussion about anonymous harassment and hate messages.
Kimura’s mother, Kyoko, also a famous professional wrestler, was the driving force behind the legal change. He testified in parliament in April and said he has continually faced insults and accusations of using his daughter’s name to make money.
The amended law will be formally enacted later this year. It will add a one-year prison sentence with a forced labor option and fines of up to 300,000 yen ($ 2,220) to convicted offenders, a change of only short-term detention and fines of less than 10,000 yen ($ 74) to current law.
The bill was passed by the upper house on Monday after approval by the lower house, the most powerful in Japan’s two-chamber parliament. Due to freedom of expression issues, the law is expected to be reviewed by external experts within three years.
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