Japan toughens penalties for insults, creates new type of imprisonment

Japan's Diet has enacted legislation to revise the Penal Code, toughening penalties for insults and unifying two types of imprisonment.

The Upper House passed the legislation on Monday with majority support from the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito as well as the Nippon Ishin Japan Innovation Party, the Democratic Party for the People and other lawmakers.

Under the revised law, penalties for insults will be tightened to include a prison term of up to one year with or without compulsory labor, or a fine of up to 300,000 yen, or about 2,200 dollars. Current penalties for insults do not include a prison term.

The tougher penalties are aimed at strengthening efforts to tackle online insults. People may face charges if they make insulting remarks in public.

The appendix to the revised law requires an examination to be conducted three years after it takes effect in order to determine if it unfairly restricts freedom of expression.

The revised law will also introduce a new type of prison term by unifying imprisonment with compulsory labor and imprisonment without such labor.

Under the new type of imprisonment, prison work will not be compulsory. Inmates will be offered guidance or educational programs to prevent them from committing crimes again.

The change to the types of punishment is the first of its kind since the Penal Code was established in 1907.