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The November 1944 execution of convicted Soviet spy Richard Sorge and his accomplice, Hotsumi Ozaki, was unfair, the Yokohama Bar Association said in a report based on 10 years of research.

Japanese authorities arrested Sorge, Ozaki and others in October 1941. Sorge and Ozaki were charged with violating the National Security Maintenance Law because they reported to Moscow on Japan’s decision to advance into Southeast Asia and to maintain its neutrality regarding the war between Germany and the Soviet Union, according to the bar group’s report, titled “Reading the Rulings on the Sorge Incident.”

The decision on war policy was made at a conference presided over by the late Emperor Showa. The bar group’s report says the information sent to Moscow was based on newspaper reports and Ozaki and others’ judgment and opinions. The report criticizes authorities for determining without concrete evidence that the information was a state secret.

The authorities expanded an interpretation of the law that cannot be condoned under the principle of legality, and the execution was thus unfair, the report says. Authorities also invoked the Peace Preservation Law in the Sorge case because it enabled them to detain and interrogate the suspects for up to a year, the report says. The actions of Sorge and Ozaki were too abstract for the law to be applied to them, it claims.

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