Japan toughens penalties for defamation after wrestler’s suicide | Entertainment News


By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s parliament on Monday approved tougher penalties for criminal defamation in a decision prompted by the suicide of an intimidated wrestler that raises free speech concerns.

Parliamentary deliberations on tougher libel law began in January after Hana Kimura took her own life aged 22.

Kimura faced bullying and insults on social media in 2020 after appearing on the Netflix show “Terrace House”, about three men and three women temporarily living together in a shared house in Tokyo.

His death sparked a flurry of discussion about anonymous bullying and hateful posts.

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Kimura’s mother, Kyoko, also a famous professional wrestler, was one of the driving forces behind the legal change. She gave evidence to parliament in April and said she had been constantly insulted and accused of using her daughter’s name to make money.

The amended law will be officially enacted later this year. It will add a one-year prison term with a forced labor option and fines of up to 300,000 yen ($2,220) for convicted offenders – a change from short-term detention and fines below 10,000 yen ($74) in current law.

The legislation was approved by the upper house on Monday after being passed earlier by the lower house, the most powerful in Japan’s two-chamber parliament. Due to freedom of expression concerns, the law is to be reviewed by outside experts in three years.

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