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Major US Ally Rolls Out Law To Stifle Online Speech

A Japanese law that threatens citizens with prison time for online insults went into effect on Thursday.

Japanese penal codes define insults as “publicly demeaning someone’s social standing without referring to specific facts about them or a specific action,” CNN reported. But it is not clear where that line stops; even calling the prime minister an “idiot” could be prohibited speech, Seiho Cho, a Japan-based criminal lawyer, told CNN.

Those convicted under the law could be jailed for up to a year, The Verge reported.

Opposition to the vote came most notably from the Constitutional Democratic Party, which argued that the law could stifle legitimate criticism of government officials, according to Kyodo News.

The new regulations were passed earlier this summer after a reality television star, 22-year old Hana Kimura, was believed to have committed suicide in May 2020 after receiving a number of hateful messages on social media, Kyodo News reported. Kimura’s mother spearheaded a campaign for more stringent anti-cyberbullying policies following her death, according to The Verge.

The bill only passed after a provision was added to examine its impact on freedom of expression in three years’ time, CNN reported.

Neither the Japanese embassy nor the Japanese Constitutional Democratic Party immediately responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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