Photo/IllutrationProtesters denounce hate speech. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

ISHIGAKI, Okinawa Prefecture--In a rare case, two men were convicted of defamation for posting anonymous and discriminatory remarks about an ethnic Korean business owner here.

The Ishigaki Summary Court fined the two defendants 100,000 yen ($912) each.

One of the defendants had worked at the diving shop run by the 35-year-old ethnic Korean, but they had a falling out. The other defendant was a stranger to the shop owner.

Their comments appeared on anonymous bulletin boards, such as 2Channel and local community site bakusai.com, from 2016 until the end of 2018.

They posted the ethnic Korean man’s name as well as the name of his diving shop, and labeled him a “scam artist.” Other comments that were directed at him included: “Korean! Get out of Japan!” according to the Yaeyama Police Station of the Okinawa prefectural police and other sources.

In February 2016, the victim filed a criminal complaint against the two.

He also intends to file a lawsuit against the two men, saying “the damage to my business is immense.”

The diving shop owner moved to Ishigaki in 2012. After the hate-filled posts were uploaded, his diving shop saw a huge drop in sales, he said.

It is extremely rare for authorities to start criminal procedures over anonymous online postings that discriminate based on nationality.

Police sent papers against the unspecified suspects to the Naha District Public Prosecutors Office’s Ishigaki branch in November last year. The Ishigaki local public prosecutors office filed summary indictments against the two men on Jan. 15 and Jan. 23, respectively.

“Discriminatory remarks based on race and nationality have been rising, and they can stem from trouble between individuals in addition to organized hate speech,” said Yasuko Morooka, a lawyer who specializes in hate speech issues.

Municipalities around Japan have taken measures to prevent anti-Korean demonstrations from being held at public facilities.

And in April, prosecutors in Kyoto indicted an anti-Korea activist who has publicly advocated “kicking out” Korean schools.

The suspect, accused of defamation, once led the Kyoto branch of Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Group of citizens that do not tolerate privileges for ethnic Korean residents in Japan).

He posted video footage of himself using a megaphone outside the former site of Kyoto Chosen Daiichi Elementary School that was run by a pro-Pyongyang operator.

“We have to kick out a school that abducts Japanese nationals,” he yelled through the megaphone.