KAWASAKI — The Kawasaki city assembly on Thursday passed an ordinance bill imposing criminal penalties for hate speech, a first for Japan.

The new ordinance enacted in Kawasaki, to enter into force on July 1, bans discriminatory language and actions against those from countries or regions other than Japan in public spaces in the city near Tokyo. It makes repeat violations punishable by a fine of up to 500,000 yen ($4,600).

While Japan enacted in 2016 a law designed to deter hate speech, the city deemed the law has not been effective in eradicating discrimination against ethnic minorities as it lacks provisions to ban or punish the use of discriminatory language.

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