If you are found guilty of insulting someone online, the previous law can result in 30 days in prison and a $75 fine; however, the new legislation doubles the punishment to a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,200.
According to the Ministry of Justice, insults are “publicly demeaning someone’s social standing without referring to specific facts about them or a specific action.”
After a well-known wrestler and reality TV star, Hana Kinura, committed suicide as a result of online insults and cyberbullying, Japan has taken online insult/cyberbullying more seriously.
The new revised law appears to be the result of cyberbullying cases, however Seiho Cho, a criminal lawyer in Japan, pointed out that:
“There needs to be a guideline that makes a distinction on what qualifies as an insult,” Cho said. “For example, at the moment, even if someone calls the leader of Japan an idiot, then maybe under the revised law that could be classed as an insult.”
The measure sparked debate in the country, with opponents claiming it would stifle free speech and criticism of people in authority. However, supporters said that harsher law was required to combat cyberbullying and internet abuse.