Online stalking on social media becomes illegal in Japan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 11:48am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 11:48am

A revised anti-stalking law took effect in Japan on Tuesday to crack down on online stalking via social networking services, which counsellors warn is enmeshing a growing number of teenagers.

Acts deemed illegal under the law involve sending messages repeatedly through social media even though the recipient does not want to receive them and relentlessly leaving comments on someone’s blog.

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Concerning stalking in general, the amended law allows public prosecutors to indict a suspect even if the person being stalked stops short of filing a criminal complaint for fear of retaliation and also extends the maximum term of imprisonment from six months to one year.

According to the National Web Counselling Association, there were 10 cases of online stalking in 2012, the year it began tallying the data. The number grew to 97 in 2013 but in 2016 had jumped to 577 as of October.

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Many of those who consult the association have problems with potential dating partners they get to know through social media, and most of the online stalking victims are teenagers, it said.

The lawmakers revised the anti-stalking law in the wake of an incident in May last year in which musical artist Mayu Tomita was stabbed by a male fan.

In a statement she released last month, Tomita, 21, complained about the tepid police response to her appeal for help after reporting to them that she was receiving social media messages several times a day threatening to kill her.