Despite years of campaigning against an alleged state injustice, Akiko Hoshino shows no signs of cynicism. The sprightly, upbeat 59-year-old welcomes newcomers to her struggle with a patient, gentle manner. Patience is certainly needed, since her campaign has stretched out over several decades. Her husband, Fumiaki, 67, has spent nearly 40 years behind bars for a crime he maintains he did not commit and due to a conviction he and his supporters believe was politically motivated.

Fumiaki Hoshino was arrested in 1975 in connection with the death of a riot police officer in the so-called Shibuya Riot Incident of Nov. 14, 1971. That day, the radical New Left group Chukaku-ha (Middle Core Faction) organized a large rally in Shibuya to protest the terms of the return of Okinawa to Japan and the island's use by U.S. forces as a staging post for the Vietnam War.

A veteran of activism at his university in Gunma and the Narita International Airport protests in Sanrizuka, Hoshino was one of the leaders of a group of around 200 students and young workers that descended on Shibuya from the Yoyogi area. Riot police tried to prevent them passing and a scuffle ensued. In the melee, police officer Tsuneo Nakamura was beaten and set on fire. He died the next day.