Hana Kimura was part of the Netflix reality show “Terrace House” and a victim of cyberbullying. In 2020 she died – probably by suicide. Now Japan wants to take action against hate on the Internet.

Japan is stepping up its fight against cyberbullying after the tragic death of a young professional wrestler known from the Netflix program.

A change in the law came into force on Thursday, with which hate comments and insults on the Internet can be punished with a prison sentence of up to one year. In addition, the revised Criminal Code provides for increased fines. The reason for the tougher action against cyberbullying was the death of 22-year-old Hana Kimura, who appeared on the internationally renowned Netflix reality show “Terrace House”. She had become a victim of hateful comments online.

The cause of death is assumed to be suicide. Shortly before her death in 2020, the young Japanese woman wrote on Twitter that she received almost 100 comments a day and felt hurt. Her fate suddenly put the topic of cyberbullying at the center of the public debate. Bullying in general has long been a serious social problem in harmony-focused Japan. In response to Kimura’s death, the government said it wanted to change the law to make it easier to identify people posting hateful comments on social media.

Two men in Osaka and Fukui prefectures had been fined just 9,000 yen ($70) for slandering the woman online before Kimura’s death. Criticism of this low penalty eventually led to the tightening of the law. In addition to the longer prison sentence – previously the law provided for less than 30 days in prison – offenders will also face fines of up to 300,000 yen (2160 euros) instead of less than 10,000 yen (72 euros). The statute of limitations for cyberbullying has also been extended from one year to three years.