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Leading Cases on Hate Speech and Racism in Japan


 ~A Supreme Court Ruling in Japan and Reflections on Minority Rights from a Comparative Perspective~

139 MacDougal Street, Wilf Hall
5th Floor, Room 512
New York, NY, 10012


Ryangok Ku will discuss a recent Japanese Supreme Court ruling in a hate speech case, in which she served as lead counsel on behalf of a Korean ethnic school in Kyoto, who had filed a lawsuit against the Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean,ultra-nationalist organization in Japan. From 2009 to 2010, this group had organized “threatening” demonstrations in front of the elementary school, chanting anti-Korean slogans over loudspeakers, labeling the students "cockroaches" and “the children of North Korean spies.”

The Japanese Supreme Court in 2014 ruled in favor of the Korean school, recognizing that the Zaitokukai activities constituted “racial discrimination,” as defined by an international convention ratified by Japan. The anti-Korean group was ordered to pay high damages.

Ryangok will offer an overview of the legal battles against Japan’s far-right extremist organizations, and discuss the many difficulties faced by hate-speech victims - including the socio-psychological harms of hate speech, as well as the lack of legal protection for Korean and other ethnic minorities who have been increasingly targeted by an emerging tide of demonstrations.

This talk will also offer an overview of Japan's colonial history in the pre-WWII era, and its imperial ventures in Korea, Taiwan, and China, as well as the later diaspora of former colonial subjects in post-war Japan. The presentation will conclude with an analysis of differences between Japan and the U.S. regarding to how to protect minorities how to be remedied in discrimination cases. Also she will provide analysis on racism in Japan and the U.S.


Ryankok Ku received her J.D in 2008 from Osaka University and registered with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) in 2009. She is a polyglot lawyer in Japan, a native speaker of Japanese and Korean (also intermediate Chinese). She specializes in providing legal services to foreigners and foreign companies including business, immigration, labor, and family law. Ryangok also served as lead counsel of a leading case of hate speech from 2009-2014, and won the Supreme Court decision that affirmed the illegality of racial discrimination. Her recent research focuses on legal systems for addressing hate speech, hate crime and their practical use in the United States.



Earlier Event: April 2
Asia Law Weekly: Damien Atkins