Japanese journalist held in Myanmar facing charges

Japanese journalist held in Myanmar facing charges

A group of activists hold placards of Japanese citizen Toru Kubota, who is detained in Myanmar, during a rally in front of the Foriegn Ministry in Tokyo on Sunday. (AFP photo)
A group of activists hold placards of Japanese citizen Toru Kubota, who is detained in Myanmar, during a rally in front of the Foriegn Ministry in Tokyo on Sunday. (AFP photo)

A Japanese documentary filmmaker held in Myanmar faces charges of breaking an immigration law and encouraging dissent against the ruling military, local media and the junta's information team said on Thursday.

Toru Kubota, 26, entered Myanmar on a tourist visa on July 1 and was arrested while covering a protest in Yangon 30 days later, according to an official statement seen by Reuters.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the generals seized power in a coup in February last year, prompting a backlash of nationwide protests that were suppressed by the military with lethal force.

The army has since been fighting on multiple fronts, including against newly formed resistance groups allied with a shadow government.

The immigration and dissent charges Kubota is facing carry maximum jail terms of five years and two years respectively.

Japan's government and its embassy in Yangon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Japanese government spokesman on Sunday said Tokyo was calling for the detained man's release.

Kubota's personal website says he has worked with media companies such as Yahoo! News Japan, VICE JAPAN and Al Jazeera English.

His friends and fellow journalists in Tokyo appealed on Wednesday for him to be freed, while 47,000 people have signed an online petition calling for his release.

A Japanese freelance journalist was freed in Myanmar last year after initially being arrested and charged with spreading false news in covering anti-coup protests. The junta said his release was in recognition the two countries' close ties.

In 2007, soldiers shot and killed a Japanese journalist in Myanmar during a pro-democracy demonstration.

More than 11,800 people are currently in detention in Myanmar over their opposition to the junta, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an activist group that has been documenting the crackdown.


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (1)

World Cup heavyweights gear up for quarter-finals

DOHA: Brazil, France and other World Cup heavyweights started the build-up to their quarter-final matches in earnest on Wednesday after Portugal made a huge statement of intent against Switzerland.

7 Dec 2022

Bali bombmaker released on parole from Indonesian prison: official

One of the bombmakers in the Bali blasts that killed more than 200 people two decades ago was released on parole on Wednesday, an Indonesian official said, months after Jakarta reduced his 20-year prison sentence.

7 Dec 2022

Time magazine names Ukraine's Zelensky 'Person of the Year'

NEW YORK: Time magazine named President Volodymyr Zelensky as well as "the spirit of Ukraine" as its 2022 person of the year on Wednesday, for the resistance the country has shown in the face of Russia's invasion.

7 Dec 2022