“Something is Very Wrong”: Osaka Police Target Anti-Nuclear Protesters via Japan Focus

On October 17, 2013, Osaka Hannan University Professor Shimoji Masaki spoke at Berkeley on the efforts of anti-nuclear activists in Osaka to fight against government plans to burn radioactive waste from Fukushima. He also detailed his arrest and detention by Osaka police. Shimoji was arrested in December 2012 and held without charge for 20 days for speaking publically and handing out educational material on the dangers of radiation. He sees the arrest as a sign of the increased use of the police and arbitrary arrest to bully and intimidate anti-nuclear activists into silence. No criminal charges were brought against Shimoji, but this incident and other examples of harassment of activists by the police and other agents of the state are having a chilling effect on public discussion of the health effects of radiation and the state of Japan’s nuclear infrastructure. Shimoji offers an account of his experience in Japanese here. He was arrested at home, in front of his wife, by a gang of seven police officers. Shimoji was told that while speaking in public in front of Osaka Station two months earlier, he had refused to leave when ordered to do so by security and engaged in “forcible obstruction of business”. He describes this as a “naked lie”, highlighting the ability of police in Japan to fabricate stories in order to justify what are essentially arbitrary detentions – no formal charges or presentation of evidence is necessary to hold a “suspect” for up to three weeks. On the day in question, Shimoji spoke in front of the station, but was accused instead of organizing a large and disruptive demonstration inside. While this could have been easily confirmed or dismissed by using surveillance camera footage from the station, Shimoji argues that police were far more interested in detention than investigation. He believes he was targeted because he had previously protested what he describes as illegal police interference in peaceful public demonstrations as well as the arbitrary arrest of demonstrators in circumstances similar to his own. Shimoji had also spoken out against wasteful spending and graft during the reconstruction of the northern coastal communities devastated by the 2011 tsunami. He believes that the government, abandoning its responsibility to provide accurate information to the public on radiation, the spending of relief funds, and other issues, has instead decided to use the police to silence dissent. He worries that out of the public view and without adequate media scrutiny, the police have continuously abused their powers and that his own case is only the tip of the iceberg.

Read more.
To the Members of the “Group in Support of Professor Shimoji Masaki” from Shima Koji

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