The History of Japanese Racism, Japanese American Redress, and the Dangers Associated With Government Regulation of Hate Speech

44 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2018

See all articles by Hiroshi Fukurai

Hiroshi Fukurai

University of California Santa Cruz

Alice Yang Murray

University of California, Santa Cruz - History

Date Written: March 7, 2018


This Article begins by critically examining the history of Japanese racism in relation to Japan’s imperial projection of racialized policies and military ventures unleashed by Japanese government and propaganda agencies. We then examine Japanese Americans’ successful redress movement in the U.S. and the lessons of this campaign for other victims of racist government policies. Many lawsuits have been filed against the Japanese government to demand both apologies and reparations. The plaintiffs included Ainu people who were stripped of their land and subjected to Japan’s forced assimilation policies; Korean victims and families whose members were murdered by Japanese militias during the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923; Okinawan civilians who were killed or forced to commit suicide during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945; and Burakumins who have been long subjected to both corporate and governmental discrimination, as well as other Asian victims of Japanese imperialism, including families and/or victims of sexual enslavement, forced laborers, among many others. This Article also critically examines the possible dangers associated with giving governments the authority and power to regulate the parameters of hate speech and free speech. Professor Craig Martin’s article assumes that the Japanese government should act as a principal organ to regulate and legislate hate speech. This Article argues that the governments in Japan and the U.S. have often acted against the interests of racial and ethnic minorities and that greater public debate and discussion is needed to examine the potential ramifications of government regulation of hate speech that might limit the freedom of speech, especially speech critical of the government. This Article further argues that today’s resurgence of racism and racial prejudice against marginalized populations in Japan must be understood within the context of the historical legacy of Japanese governmental policies that propelled racialized nation-building and imperial projects in both Japan and Asia in the late nineteenth century and the early half of the twentieth century. This Article substantiates that the failure to acknowledge the role of Japanese racism and the Japanese government’s refusal to accept Japanese war responsibilities may lie at the heart of today’s resurgence of racism and hate speeches against Japan’s minority populations.

Keywords: Japanese Racism, Hate Speech, Race Relations, Colonialism, Imperialism

JEL Classification: K42

Suggested Citation

Fukurai, Hiroshi and Yang Murray, Alice, The History of Japanese Racism, Japanese American Redress, and the Dangers Associated With Government Regulation of Hate Speech (March 7, 2018). Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Vol. 45, 2018, Available at SSRN:

Hiroshi Fukurai (Contact Author)

University of California Santa Cruz ( email )

1156 High St
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States
831-459-2971 (Phone)
831-459-3518 (Fax)


Alice Yang Murray

University of California, Santa Cruz - History ( email )

United States

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