Japan has now made online abuse an offence that carries up to a year in prison following the death of a reality TV star who died after a barrage of cyberbullying.
TV personality Hana Kimura took her own life at just 22 years old in 2020 after she suffered a wave of online abuse.
The professional wrestler's death led to a national debate in Japan about cyberbullying and defamation, with the National Diet (Japanese parliament) handing down amendments to legislation on Monday (June 13).
Kimura appeared on the popular Japanese reality show Terrace House, where Japanese singles who are looking for love live together in a Tokyo apartment.
She received hateful messages after her performance was criticised in one of the episodes.
On the day of her death, she tweeted about receiving hundreds of abusive messages on social media, according to NikkeiAsia.
Police examined her social media accounts after her death, and found over hundreds of abusive messages on her phone.
One man who had harassed her online was fined ¥10,000 - which equates to about $110 (£61) - for his actions in the lead-up to her death.
According to NikkeiAsia the man admitted to the charge of public insult, telling police that he 'wanted to get back at [Kimura] after seeing her act violently toward a male [cast member] on the show'.
The Washington Post reports that he also sent her messages telling her she had an 'awful personality'.
He also asked her: "When will you die?"
Prior to the law being changed, the maximum penalty for insulting another person online was less than 30 days detention or a ¥10,000 fine, as per NBC.
Now, with the amendment to Japan’s penal code passed on Monday (June 13), those found engaging in cyberbullying will face a prison term of up to one year and a maximum fine of ¥300,000 ($AUD 3,190, £1,800).
Kimura's mother, former professional wrestler Kyoko Kimura, praised the changes.
Kyoko has campaigned for stronger anti-cyberbullying laws following her daughter's death.
She also set up a non-profit organisation called Remember Hana to raise awareness about cyberbullying and its impacts.
Kyoko held a news conference following Monday's decision by Japanese parliament.
"I want people to know that cyberbullying is a crime," she said, as per CNN.
Kyoko added that she hoped the amendment would lead to more detailed legislation on cyberbullying in the future.
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Featured Image Credit: Alamy. Universal Pictures.
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