Right-wing groups in Japan today still commonly target ethnic Koreans living in Japan. File Photo by Christopher Jue/EPA-EFE
Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Two Japanese men who made derogatory comments online targeting an ethnic Korean resident have been identified and fined for defamation, according to multiple reports.
The Ishigaki Summary Court in Okinawa Prefecture fined the two men about $900 each on charges of defamation, NHK and Kyodo News reported Wednesday.
The defendants were fined last month for damaging comments against a "South Korean resident of Japan," according to Japanese reports. It is unclear whether the plaintiff is a South Korea-born resident, or a member of Japan's ethnic Korean minority, descendants of immigrants who arrived in Japan before 1945.
Ethnic Koreans in Japan often opt for North or South Korean citizenship, despite their long-term residency status in Japan.
According to Kyodo, the defendants wrote racist or anti-Korean comments on 2channel, targeting a local Ishigaki resident with slurs. The plaintiff notified police after he was called a "Zainichi [ethnic Korean in Japan] con artist" who "ate dogs and cats."
Police reported the case to local prosecutors who were able to locate the anonymous commenters.
According to the plaintiff, who was not identified, the online comments had affected his business. Sales went down because of the targeted hate speech, he said.
"I hope the court order will help stop hate speech in the future," the plaintiff said, according to Kyodo.
Sources said the case marks the first time hateful comments have been connected to defamation, a more serious crime in Japan.
In December a Japanese man in his 60s was fined about $90 for insulting ethnic Korean high school students online in Kanagawa. The defendant was not charged with defamation.