New Penalties for Online Bullying to be Introduced in Japan

Feb, 2022

Vocabulary list 

• Students read each word followed by the definition, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• The teacher reads the sample sentence and the students repeat, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• After reading the list, students try to make their own example sentences using the words that are new to them. 

• Students share their example sentences and the teacher gives feedback, correcting errors if necessary.

penalty (noun)


a punishment for breaking a rule, law, or contract

The penalty for drinking and driving in the UK can be up to £2,500 and a driving ban.


bullying (noun)  


the use of strength or power to scare or hurt someone weaker

The bullying some children get at school can severely affect their learning.


insult (noun)


words or actions that offend someone

The woman was asked to leave the shop after she insulted an employee.


fine (noun)


money that must be paid for breaking a rule or law

In Singapore, if you throw rubbish in the street, you will receive a fine of $300.


statute of limitations (noun phrase)  

ˌstæ.tʃuːt əv lɪ.mɪˈteɪ.ʃnz

a law that sets the period of time within which legal action can be taken on a crime

The defendant could not be charged as the statute of limitations had expired.


basis (noun)


the frequency that something happens

Most employees are paid on a monthly basis.


abuse (noun) 


cruel and hurtful words or behaviour directed toward someone

The fans shouted abuse at the referee because they didn’t like his decision.


New Penalties for Online Bullying to be Introduced in Japan

The Japanese government has announced that there will be new penalties for online bullying, also known as cyber-bullying. The new penalty for cyber-bullying and online insults will include spending up to one year in prison, or a fine of up to 300,000 yen, which is about $2,500.

The new penalties will be added to the current laws that are in place, which include being sentenced to up to 30 days in prison, and a fine of between 1,000 yen and 10,000 yen, which is the equivalent of $8 to $84. The new law will also change the statute of limitations for online insults from one year to three years.

Discussions around changing the law began in May 2020 after the well-known wrestler and TV star Hana Kimura, who was only 22-years-old, took her own life. Before her death, Kimura had made a series of social media posts suggesting that she was being cyber-bullied. Two men were later charged and convicted of bullying the young star and were each fined 9,000 yen, which is about $75.

It is believe that Kimura received hundreds of mean and often cruel tweets on a daily basis. When her fans found out about her death, they and several industry figures spoke out against cyber-bullying and its effect on mental health. Many people believed that the penalties the men received for subjecting Kimura to online abuse should have been worse.

Japan’s existing laws on insults were first created in 1907, long before the internet and the dangers of online bullying. The new penalties for cyber-bullying will be Japan’s first significant change to its laws on insults in over 100-years.

Today, an increasing number of people around the world are being affected by cyber-bullying. A 2018 study by Pew Research Centre found that 59% of US teenagers had been bullied online. Speaking after Kimura’s death, wrestling journalist Adam Pacitti wrote – “I hope this serves as a reminder that interactions on social media can have a serious effect on the mental health of anyone, no matter who they are”.



1. What is the new prison sentence for cyber-bullying in Japan going to be?

a. one year
b. at least one year
c. one year or less


2. How much is the new fine in US dollars?

a. $10
b. at least $2,500
c. $2,500 or less


3. What was the previous maximum prison sentence for online bullying?


4. How were the two men who bullied Hana Kimura punished?


5. When were Japan’s laws on insults first introduced?


    • What are your thoughts on Japan’s new penalties for online bullying?

    • Do you find it surprising how many US teenagers have been bullied online? Was bullying an issue at your school?

    • Why do you think people act more cruelly online than they do in person?

    • What would you do if you or one of your children were a victim of cyber-bullying?

    • How much of a problem do you think cyber-bullying will be in the future?

    • What do you think is the right age to allow children to use social media? Why?

    • What do you think parents or authorities should do to regulate social media for young people?

    • Do you use social media? Which services?

    • What do you think is the worst aspect of social media?

    • Would you ever consider going ‘off-grid’ and not using social media at all? If so, how difficult do you think it would be?