16th Contest Source Text
TRANSLATION OF AWARD-WINNERS AND FINALISTS
Examining hate speech under an academic lens
While Japan’s efforts to tackle hate speech had long been seen as insufficient by the international community, in 2016 the Diet enacted the Act on the Promotion of Efforts to Eliminate Unfair Discriminatory Speech and Behaviour against Persons Originating from Outside Japan (Hate Speech Elimination Act).
On the one hand, this perceived regulation of hate speech by the government has raised strong concerns regarding its potential violation of the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution. On the other hand, the law, which doesn’t ban hate speech nor establishes any punitive provisions, has also been criticized as only philosophical for its lack of enforceability. In reality, since its inception, the Hate Speech Elimination Act seems to have provided grounds for local governments to strengthen their stance against hate demonstrations in public spaces. However, on the Internet, hate speech remains a growing phenomenon, with no end in sight. It would appear that despite its legislative efforts, Japan still has substantial ground to cover before it can set a new national standard on this matter.
For a research group like ours, this context presents itself as an opportunity to pursue a research project aiming to deepen our understanding of the opinion and reasoning of Japanese people regarding the extent to which the government should regulate discrimination and verbal abuse. More specifically, with the assistance of a grant-in-aid for scientific research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, we conducted a survey experiment looking in depth at the mechanisms that govern people’s attitudes toward hate speech. This large scale public opinion poll is an opportunity to gain scientific insight into the reasons why people adopt different actions and attitudes regarding hate speech.
However, the discussion around hate speech, by its sensitive nature, tends to provoke emotional responses, restricting the discourse to simple demagogy. For this reason, bearing in mind the importance of scientific rigor, we wish to analyze the data collected in as neutral a manner as possible and offer an objective interpretation.
Before going any further, here are some points to consider regarding our survey process. This survey was conducted from the 20th to the 26th of March of last year in collaboration with Nikkei Research Inc. It is based on an online questionnaire administered to about 5000?participants between the ages of twenty and sixty-nine years. The scale of our sample may seem unusually large for such a study, but this is due, as we will explain further on, to our experiment protocol requiring different participants to answer questions formulated in a slightly different manner. Participants were thus divided into various subsets, which would not be statistically significant for analysis with an insufficient number of answers. Also, because our survey was conducted on the Internet, regardless of the number of answers, it was impossible to secure a sample representative of the whole population of Japan. While the sample is demographically consistent when it comes to sex, age and place of residence, it doesn’t include people over the age of seventy and, for obvious reasons, is limited to people with Internet access. Nonetheless, taking into account that is the first large scale public opinion poll of its kind to concentrate on hate speech, we are confident it can provide precious data about the attitudes and opinions of current Japanese people regarding this topic. We will present our findings in four main sections.
For Scientifically Examining “Hate Speech”
Hate speech refers to a derogatory statement which incites discrimination, violence, and contempt towards a certain minority group, i.e. a group of people distinguished from the majority by their race, ethnicity, religion, political belief, sexual orientation, social status, etc.
Japan was previously criticized by the international community for not taking sufficient action against hate speech, and thus what is known as the “Hate Speech Act” (officially named “The Act on the Promotion of Efforts to Eliminate Unfair Discriminatory Speech and Behavior against Persons Originating from Outside Japan”) was enacted in 2016.
While some people are deeply concerned that having the government regulate hate speech violates the principle of freedom of speech as set forth in the Constitution, others have criticized the Act for being inadequate, as it is nothing more than an “idealistic law” which does not prohibit or penalize hate speech. Since this law was put into effect, each municipality appears to be using it as grounds to strongly oppose hate speech demonstrations held on the streets or in parks. However, in actuality, online hate speech shows no sign of converging and continues to spread. Although Japan has passed a law, it is questionable whether the country is on its way to establishing new national norms.
Under these circumstances, our research group is conducting an academic project to gain a deeper understanding on how Japanese people believe discrimination and verbal assault should (or should not) be regulated, and why. Specifically, with the assistance of Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, we strive to explain from various angles the mechanisms behind how people form their attitudes towards hate speech, by using the survey experiment method. A survey experiment is a method for identifying factors that cause differences in people’s actions and attitudes by introducing experimental elements into a large-scale public opinion poll.
Due to the theme and content, debates and discussions regarding hate speech tend to be driven by emotion and sentimentality, and inflammatory speech invites danger. For this very reason, we objectively disclose in this paper our collected data and the interpretations thereof, while bearing in mind the importance of conducting a scientific examination from as neutral of a standpoint as possible.
Before going into this, we will discuss the overview of our conducted study as well as some points of consideration. With the cooperation of Nikkei Research Inc., we conducted this study last March 20th to 26th via the internet, targeting approximately 5,000 respondents from ages 20 to 69. A sample size of 5,000 is unusually large for this type of scientific study. However, as will be explained in the successive sections below, this is because our study implemented an experimental design in which we divided the entire sample into several parts and had each part answer partially reworded questions. Consequently, it was necessary to secure a sufficient amount of responses to make it possible to statistically analyze each division, or sub-sample. Nevertheless, no matter how many respondents participated, as long as the study was conducted online, sample representation could not be guaranteed, i.e., respondents could not be selected as a microcosm of the overall nation. In this study, although we carried out sampling based on gender, age, and places of residence in accordance with Japan’s population composition, people over the age of 70 were not included. Additionally, although it goes without saying, respondents were limited to only those who had access to the internet. Even with this point in mind, considering that no other large-scale public opinion polls focusing on the issue of hate speech have been conducted, we believe that our study provides valuable data on the attitudes and views that people in modern Japan hold towards hate speech. The implications we drew from analyzing this data are organized and presented in the four sections below.
Sky Waite (Finalist)
Toward an Academic Investigation of Hate Speech
The term “hate speech” refers to derogatory language directed at certain minority groups to instigate discrimination or violence against, or otherwise disparage the dignity of, individuals belonging to such groups, based on social differences (e.g., race, ethnicity, religion, political belief, sexual orientation, and class).
For the longest time, Japan drew criticism from the international community on the grounds that it was not doing enough to tackle hate speech. However, in 2016, the Japanese government enacted the so-called “Hate Speech Elimination Act” (officially the Act on the Promotion of Efforts to Eliminate Unfair Discriminatory Speech and Behavior against Persons Originating from Outside Japan).
Now, some have voiced deep concerns about the government regulation of hate speech, as they believe it might infringe on the principle of freedom of expression outlined in the Constitution. Others, on the other hand, have criticized the law mentioned above, saying that because it is a “symbolic law” (i.e., there are no prohibitions or penalties against hate speech), it is inadequate as a public measure. Nevertheless, since the current law came into force, local authorities have actually strengthened their stance against hate rallies in public spaces (e.g., streets, parks), using the law as the basis for such an action. On the Internet, meanwhile, hate speech has shown no signs of declining, and is, as we write, continuing to spread. It should be said, then, that Japan is still in the process of establishing a new national standard for hate speech (i.e., despite the enactment of the Hate Speech Elimination Act).
Presented with an opportunity, we (the research team) have been conducting a research project, funded by a Grant-In-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Through this project, we aim to gain a deeper understanding as to where the Japanese stand on regulating discrimination or abusive speech (they are against such regulation), and why. In particular, we are endeavoring to identify, from multiple angles, the mechanism behind how people perceive hate speech through a survey experiment methodology. Incidentally, a survey experiment is a research method in which experimental elements are combined with large-scale social surveys, making it possible to pinpoint factors responsible for differences in behavior or attitude among individuals.
In debates and discussions surrounding hate speech, participants may get carried away by emotions or sentiments when discussing certain themes or topics. As a result, there is a risk that the use of inflammatory rhetoric might accompany such conversations. Bearing this in mind, we believe it vital that we approach this academic investigation from a value-neutral perspective. Accordingly, in this paper, we aim to present the collected data and our explanation for these data in an objective manner.
We will now discuss a study that we conducted earlier, summarizing it and highlighting key points in the process. In this study, a survey was conducted from March 20 to 26, 2018, with the assistance of Nikkei Research Inc. Approximately, 5,000 respondents aged 20 to 60 were surveyed via the Internet. Now, a sample size of 5,000 may seem unusually large for an academic study of this kind. But, as will be explained in more detail below, a certain experimental design was established for this study. Specifically, we intended to divide the entire sample into a number of groups, and assign each group its own set of (partially-rephrased) questions. Therefore, a large sample size was necessary to ensure enough responses for a statistical analysis of each group/subgroup. No matter the number of respondents, however, that the survey was conducted via the Internet presents a limitation. Namely, we cannot ensure the sample’s generalizability or, in other words, weight the sample to be nationally representative. In this study, respondents were sampled by sex, age, and area of residence according to the population composition ratio of Japan. However, elderly population above the age of 70 was excluded from the sampling process. Also, as should be apparent, the survey was limited to those with access to the Internet. Even considering these caveats, however, a large-scale social survey of this kind (i.e., one focusing on the issue of hate speech) has not been conducted before. Therefore, we believe that our study offers valuable data on the attitude and opinion that the Japanese today hold toward hate speech. Below, we present our findings in four sections, outlining the implications that can be drawn from analyzing the survey data.
Monica Shingaki (Runner-up)
Hate speech refers to derogatory expressions that fuel discrimination or violence, or impugn human dignity, aimed at specific minority groups?in other words, less numerous groups of people distinct from the rest, in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, social status, or the like.
In the past, Japan had come under fire from the international community for its insufficient efforts in dealing with hate speech, but in 2016, the so-called Hate Speech Act was enacted (official name: “The Act on the Promotion of Efforts to Eliminate Unfair Discriminatory Speech and Behavior Against Persons Originating from Outside Japan”).
When it comes to government regulation of hate speech, there are deep-seated concerns of whether it would encroach upon the principles of free expression established by the Japanese Constitution. On the other hand, others criticize that the aforementioned countermeasure act is nothing more than a symbolic law, and is inadequate as a public regulation due to its lack of prohibitive provisions and penalties. In actuality, ever since the current law was enacted, each municipality appears to be leaning on the legislation to take a tough stance in confronting hate-motivated protests staged in the streets and in parks; but online, hate speech still continues to proliferate, and shows no signs of dwindling. Despite the legislation, Japan should be viewed as a country still on its way to forming a new national canon.
Taking advantage of such timing, our group of researchers is conducting a scholarly project to gain a deeper understanding of how Japanese people believe discrimination and verbal violence should be (or should not be) regulated, and why. Specifically, we receive Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and we attempt to unveil the mechanisms of attitude formation towards hate speech from various angles, employing a method called “survey experiment”. Survey experiment is an approach that seeks to identify the factors that cause divergence in human behavior and attitudes, by incorporating experimental elements into large-scale public opinion surveys.
Debates and discussions on hate speech, due to its thematic nature and subject matter, have its risks; they may be taken over by emotions and sentiments, and be accompanied by incendiary rhetoric. For that very reason, we take to heart the importance of carrying out a thoroughly value-neutral scholarly study, and in this paper, we intend to objectively share collected data and its interpretations.
Here, we first provide an abstract of the survey we conducted, and identify some points to be considered. The survey was conducted online, from March 20 through 26 last year, and surveyed approximately 5,000 adults aged 20 through 69, with the cooperation of Nikkei Research Inc. A sample size of 5,000 is unconventionally large for a scholarly survey of this kind, but as we will explain below in stages, this is due to our survey adopting an experimental design, in which the whole of the sample was divided into several groups, and each group was asked questions that partially differed in wording. Hence, a sufficient enough number of responses needed to be secured, to enable statistical analysis on each of the divided subsample. However, regardless of how numerous the respondents willing to participate, we cannot guarantee representativeness in our sample as long as the survey is conducted online?put another way, it is impossible to sample respondents in a way that epitomizes the entire population of Japan. With regard to sex, age, and geographic residence of the respondents, our survey kept with the population composition ratio of Japan, but elderly persons over 70 were excluded, and needless to say, respondents were limited to those with internet access. While bearing this in mind, we nevertheless believe our survey provides us with valuable data on attitudes and opinions towards hate speech held by the people of modern Japan, considering no other large-scale public opinion survey focused on issues of hate speech has been previously conducted. Below, we present the implications derived from analyzing this data, organized into four parts.
Quicoyia Chambers (Winner)
In the Interest of the Academic Study of Hate Speech
Hate speech is contemptuous language directed at members of a particular minority group (based on distinctions such as race, ethnicity, religion, political opinion, sexual orientation, or social status) for the purposes of degradation, inciting discrimination or violence, etc.
Having formerly been subjected to criticism from the international community for insufficient efforts to thwart hate speech, Japan enacted the so-called "Anti-Hate Speech Law" (officially titled "The Act on the Promotion of Efforts to Eliminate Unfair Discriminatory Speech and Behavior against Persons Originating from Outside Japan") in 2016.
There is deep-seated apprehension concerning whether the government regulation of hate speech infringes on the principle of freedom of expression established by the Constitution. However, one can also hear criticism asserting that the aforementioned law is merely an "ideological principle" that is insufficient as a means of public regulation due to its lack of prohibitions or penalties. Although local governments appear to be using the current legislation as authorization to take a strong stance in opposition to hate rallies in the streets or in public parks, there has been no indication that the hate speech which continues to be propagated on the internet has subsided since the legislation went into effect. Thus, it would appear that, despite a law having been enacted, Japan should still be in the process of formulating new national guidelines.
Our research group is seizing the opportunity to develop an academic project in order to gain a deeper understanding of how Japanese people think actions such as discrimination or verbal abuse should (or should not) be regulated, and why. In concrete terms, we have received Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, have employed a method known as the "survey experiment," and are working toward interpreting from various angles the mechanisms through which individuals acquire their attitudes toward hate speech. A survey experiment is a method of attempting to identify the factors leading to differences in people's behaviors or viewpoints via the incorporation of elements of experimentation into a large-scale public opinion poll.
Given the associated themes and subject matter, debates and exchanges of opinion surrounding hate speech are prone to being swayed by emotions or sentimentality and are in danger of being accompanied by inflammatory rhetoric. For this reason, we would like to present the collected data and its interpretation as objectively as possible, in consideration of the importance of carrying out scientific investigation from a value-neutral perspective.
We will now give an overview of our previously conducted investigation and mention some key points of interest. The investigation was conducted last year from March 20th to 26th, in cooperation with Nikkei Research, Inc. Approximately 5,000 respondents from the ages of 20 to 69 were surveyed via the internet. A sample size of 5,000 is unusually large for this type of scientific survey. However, as we intend to explain sequentially below, our investigation involved several divisions of the overall sample into smaller (sub)samples, with each subsample being asked to respond to partly modified questions. This experiment design made it necessary to ensure a sufficient number of responses to allow for the statistical analysis of the subsamples. In cases where surveys are conducted over the internet, no matter how many respondents participate, one cannot guarantee that the sample is representative (i.e., that it forms a microcosm of the nation as a whole). For this investigation, the sample was selected in accordance with the composition ratios of Japan's population with regards to sex and age, as well as area of residence. However, senior citizens aged 70 and over have not been included. Furthermore, though it goes without saying, respondents were limited to individuals who had internet access. Yet, despite the need to be mindful of these considerations, we believe that our study offers valuable data regarding attitudes and opinions held by people in contemporary Japan toward hate speech. This is in light of the fact that no other large-scale public opinion polls focusing on the issue of hate speech have been conducted. The following suggestions, which we will be presenting in four sections, arose through the analysis of said data.