Amid a recent rise in discrimination against ethnic Koreans, Japanese lawmakers debated Tuesday a bill that would ban racial discrimination, including harassment and hate speech. Under the proposal, the government would be required to create anti-discrimination programs that report every year to lawmakers, the Japan Times reported.
The bill does not include punitive provisions and is opposed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Its supporters include the Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party. Lawmakers were slated to discuss the measure again Thursday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers in February that racial discrimination, including hate speech, should never be tolerated in Japan. But he said a new law was not necessary, arguing that the government should instead use existing laws to deter discrimination.
But Komeito lawmaker Toru Kunishige said current laws apply only to defamation and insults against specific individuals. Hate speech against unspecified people of a racial group is not illegal in Japan.
The United Nations' Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Japanese government last year to regulate hate speech by law after attacks on Korean residents. Roughly 600,000 Koreans are permanent residents or citizens of Japan, many of them forcibly brought there during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea.
Of 203 Korean residents ranging in age from their teens to their 30s who responded to a 2013 survey, more than 80 percent said they were aware of or had experienced hate speech. Last year, a nongovernmental group said it would start a counseling service for young ethnic Koreans because of growing anti-Korean sentiment.
In the past, Koreans in Japan have been denied access to healthcare and education. Protests against Koreans have seen demonstrators chant slogans such as "Roaches," "Go Back to Korea" and "Let's Kill Koreans."