Some websites that showed hate speech videos against Korean residents of Japan have deleted the content at the request of the Justice Ministry, which is working to crack down on racist

propaganda activities, sources close to the matter said on Saturday.

It is the first time that the ministry’s efforts to tackle human rights violations stemming from hate speech led to the deletion of online videos. But some critics have called for a cautious approach to video deletions on the Internet so as not to restrict freedom of expression.

The videos in question had showed members of anti-Korean activist group Zaitokukai protesting in front of the school gate of Korea University in Kodaira in western Tokyo in November 2009. They were heard shouting, “Let’s kick out Koreans from Japan”.

The clips were accessible on some websites, including Japanese video streaming website niconico.

Some people informed the ministry that they felt violated by the videos, prompting the ministry to request their deletion. Although the request was non-binding, niconico and another website removed the content, citing human rights infringement, the sources said.

The ministry has been stepping up efforts to tackle hate speech such as by urging a former leader of Zaitokukai in December not to engage in the activities.

Yoji Ochiai, a lawyer with knowledge on Internet issues, said government actions are needed “to help victims who cannot address the problem themselves” but such actions could lead to “intervention into the freedom of expression if they become excessive.”

Currently, it is not clear on what criteria the ministry bases its request for deleting a video uploaded online.

The ministry should exercise its authority “in a modest way”, Ochiai said.