The Internet and Human Rights
Nara "Internet Station" Faces Internet-Based Discrimination

Initiatives began in 2001 after members of the Nara Liaison Conference for Human Rights Enlightenment found discriminatory

messages on an e-bulletin board called "2-Channel," on which anybody can post anonymous messages. When the brutal killing of eight elementary school students in Ikeda city (Osaka) took place, a malicious message was posted on the bulletin board saying, "These eight small children were from a Buraku. Prime Minister Koizumi praised the murderer saying 'You did a very good job. Please keep up your good work.'" An officer of the conference was quoted as saying, "We cannot allow this to continue." In February 2002 the Conference called concerned people to set up a project team to address the serious problem of Internet-based discrimination. The project team held a series of seminars, analyzed the trends of messages sent to e-bulletin boards, and exchanged information with other relevant organizations and individuals.

On May 16 2003, after one year of research, the project team opened the "Internet Station", in Kashihara city, Nara Prefecture. The Internet Station has 30 teams of 5 people who take turns on the five computers installed at the station to monitor e-bulletin boards. Whenever members find discriminatory messages that aim to either humiliate or agitate discrimination against Buraku and other minorities, including foreign residents, they send counter messages to the bulletin boards in question to correct the misinformation with the aim of educating and raising the awareness of the public in general.

Many people posted anonymous messages on bulletins board attacking the Internet Station after it was set up. One such message read, "I am warning you Internet Station members, this is none of your business. If the bulletin board is closed due to your interference, I will do the same thing as [the man who murdered the children in Ikeda City] did in schools where your children go." However, the people posting these hateful words suddenly stopped when newspapers reported that the Conference, the sponsor of the Internet Station, was considering taking legal action against them. Although these people seem to have stopped posting discriminatory messages on bulletin boards, they still continue to discriminate against using an indirect and euphemistic wording.

While Internet station initiative has seen good results, it still faces challenges from more sophisticated forms of Internet- based discrimination.