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“There Will Be No Stopping the Okinawan Resistance,” an Interview with Yamashiro Hiroji

2017-08-10 15:12:10 | article

  Yamishiro after being released

“There Will Be No Stopping the Okinawan Resistance,” an Interview with Yamashiro Hiroji
Gavan McCormack and Asia-Pacific Journal Report

The Asia-Pacific
August 1, 2017

The erosion of civil liberties proceeds apace in Okinawa, the most conspicuous case being the imprisonment for five months (17 October 2016 to 19 March 2017) of Yamashiro Hiroji, head of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center and a prominent activist opposing base activist. In most developed democratic countries, a suspect may be held in police custody for up to four days before she or he is either indicted or released, but in Japan the limit is 23 days,1 and in Yamashiro’s case it was arbitrarily extended by serial arrests on unrelated charges.

Two more months were to follow, however, before that happened. Even then, the court imposed strict conditions: setting bail at seven million yen (roughly $65,000), and forbidding Yamashiro from resuming his role in the protest movement or communicating with its members.As it became clear that the rules were being twisted to enable his prolonged detention, a national and international movement began to develop around his case. In December 2016, a number of members of the editorial group of this journal (this author included) joined an international call for release of Yamashiro and his colleagues. 2 On 4 January, a well-known American specialist on Japanese law, Lawrence Repeta, wrote in similar vein in the Japan Times, pointing out that the government of Japan was in breach of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its treatment of Yamashiro constituted a “shocking display of raw government power.”3 In January 2017, a group of 41 Japanese criminal law specialists issued a statement of protest and demand for Yamashiro’s release, which was translated and posted on this site together with my analysis.4 Amnesty International also took up the case, issuing an “urgent call” for Yamashiro’s release.5

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