POLITICAL ARRESTS

Is passing out leaflets on the street or inserting them into mailboxes acceptable and legal behaviour? Yes, unless they are critical of government policy or support the Communist party. Political arrests are hardly a rare occurence in Japan. Below are a few. Also see Tachikawa Leafletting Case Arakawa Leafletting Case

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2008/09/20


Man convicted of distributing JCP newspaper against public servant law 2008/09/20 TOKYO

The Tokyo District Court on Friday fined a man 100,000 yen for distributing a Japanese Communist Party newspaper despite a law restricting public servants’ involvement in political activities. Shinichi Ujibashi, 60, who was a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry employee at the time, was convicted of distributing the Shimbun Akahata newspaper at a police quarter in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward on Sept 10, 2005. His defense counsel pleaded not guilty, saying he distributed the newspaper without revealing he is a public servant. The defense has argued that the National Public Service Law’s restrictions of government employees’ political activities are unconstitutional. But Judge Katsumasa Koike ruled that to maintain neutrality such restrictions are permissible under the Constitution as long as they are reasonable and necessary.

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2008/09/12

Director arrested for putting up poster of anti-emperor film 2008/09/12 TOKYO

Movie director Fumiki Watanabe was arrested Thursday on suspicion of violating the minor offenses law for allegedly putting up a poster of his anti-Japanese monarchy film on a street light in Tokyo, police said. Watanabe, 55, an independent film director, allegedly put up the poster in Koto Ward, Tokyo, at around 4 a.m. Thursday and was arrested on the spot, the police said. The film is titled ‘‘Tenno Densetsu’’ (emperor legends) and questions Japan’s monarchy system. A native of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, Watanabe debuted as a movie director in 1987 with ‘‘Katei Kyoshi’’ (home tutor). In 1990, he won the new directors award of the Directors Guild of Japan for ‘‘Shimaguni Konjo,’’ whose English title was ‘‘Homemade Movie.’’ Last May, Watanabe was arrested on suspicion of fraud for allegedly failing to pay more than 70,000 yen in hotel bills in Miyagi Prefecture. He was served fresh arrest warrants twice later for failing to pay about 2.8 million yen in hotel bills.

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2007/01/29

Adviser to group of pro-Pyongyang scientists facing arrest 2007/01/29

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Police have decided to arrest an adviser to a pro-North Korea scientists association who ran a temp agency in Kawasaki on suspicion of violating a law regulating temporary staff services, police sources said. The 74-year-old North Korean resident of Japan was formerly an executive of the Korean Association of Science and Technology, which is affiliated with Chongryun, the pro-Pyongyang group also known as the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan. According to the police, the man is also an an engineering expert. Investigators said there is a possibility the scientists group, for which the man still serves as an adviser, might be involved in leaking cutting-edge technology, including developments related to missiles, to North Korea. The man and his 72-year-old wife, who now runs the temp agency and also faces arrest, are suspected of sending technical workers to an electrical machinery manufacturer in Ota, Gunma Prefecture, without filing the proper paperwork with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The temp agency, Taiho Sangyo, was established in 1961. The man retired as president last June. Kanagawa police searched the company office in Kawasaki and his home in Tokyo in November in connection with the case. Last June, the police also filed papers with prosecutors on a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical supply company for allegedly selling medicine illegally to a trading company for export to North Korea. The North Korean man was serving as an auditor for the trading company. The scientists association was established in 1959 and is comprised mostly of North Korean scientists and engineers living in Japan. In October 2005, its vice chairman and others were arrested on suspicion of violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law. Documents on Ground Self-Defense Force surface-to-air missiles were found in a related search of the group's premises, according to investigators.

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2009/03/05


Prosecutors raid local office of Ozawa; DPJ leader refuses to quit 2009/03/05 MORIOKA

Prosecutors on Wednesday raided the office of Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, and the DPJ’s branch office in Morioka, Iwate, following the arrest of Ozawa’s secretary Tuesday for allegedly receiving illegal donations. The special investigation unit of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office aims to collect evidence to back up the allegations against Takanori Okubo, 47, who is suspected of receiving illegal corporate donations from scandal-tainted Nishimatsu Construction Co, in violation of the political funds control law. Okubo has denied the allegations, investigative sources said. Meanwhile, at a press conference in Tokyo, Ozawa said Wednesday he will stay in his post despite the arrest of his secretary. ‘‘I have nothing to be blamed for, and my secretary dealt with the political funds in accordance with the law,’’ Ozawa said. He was also critical of the investigation by the special investigative unit of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office as an ‘‘unfair exercise of investigative power, politically and legally’’ as the arrest came at a time when a general election has become a hot topic. ‘‘If we allow the public authorities to exercise their power on their own terms, we cannot protect our human rights and it will darken our society,’’ he said. Ozawa said he believes his arrested secretary will be found not guilty in the near future and that he sees no reason to offer an apology to the public. While some DPJ members call for his resignation, DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama issued a statement after the press conference, saying, ‘‘President Ozawa has achieved his accountability and made it clear that there is no illegality in the handling of the political funds.’’ Hatoyama urged the prosecutors to fully explain their investigation to the public, saying their moves are ‘‘extremely abnormal and it is inevitable that speculations over their political intention will be stirred’’ as the arrest came prior to the general election. Okubo was arrested on suspicion of receiving illegal corporate donations from scandal-tainted Nishimatsu Construction Co, in violation of the political funds control law. Under the law, corporate donations are prohibited, except to political parties or their political fund-managing organizations. The secretary recognized that the donations had come from political organizations, not a company, Ozawa told reporters, adding that he and his secretary did ‘‘not deserve the investigation, including the arrest.’’ Ozawa said he has no means of finding out where the donations came from and accepted the donations in question as he believed they were from political organizations. But he added he will return the donations if they are found to be illegal. He offered similar explanations over the case at an urgent DPJ executive meeting before the press conference, and DPJ lawmakers accepted them, a DPJ lawmaker said. Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said, however, he found it difficult to understand the remarks of Ozawa as he believes the prosecution is handling the matter appropriately. ‘‘I wonder if the words of a head of the leading opposition party, which calls for a change of government, can be accepted by the public,’’ Kawamura told a news conference. Lawmakers of the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito party called for Ozawa’s resignation. Toshiko Hamayotsu, acting president of New Komeito, said Ozawa is becoming ‘‘paranoid to avoid his responsibility. He should resign as DPJ president.’’ LDP Diet affairs chief Tadamori Oshima told reporters, ‘‘The investigation has obtained approval from the court (to arrest the secretary). The remarks are extremely regrettable as they deny the rules of democracy.’’ Meanwhile, Tadayoshi Ichida, head of the Japanese Communist Party’s secretariat, said his party will pursue if lawmakers other than Ozawa have been involved in the suspicious fundraising. ‘‘Mr Ozawa’s assertions differ from those of the prosecution. People cannot accept his explanation. We will clarify the truth in the Diet,’’ Ichida told a news conference.

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