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fliers on my days off for more than 30 years.

“I was told when I became a central government employee in 1972 that engaging in political activities may result in punishment,” he admitted.

However, his lawyers argued it was well-known that some government employees become involved in political campaigns, notably when former civil servants run for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party or union leaders stand for opposition parties.

This political involvement has been allowed to continue almost unchecked for more than 30 years since the 1974 ruling on the postal worker, they said.

During the trial, the defense team also condemned police for violating Horikoshi’s privacy rights by secretly tailing him for nearly a month and videotaping the places he went, including dining out and a trip to the dentist, and the people he met.

The lawyers argued that police violated the privacy of others, including those not involved in Horikoshi’s political activities, during their investigation.

The district court determined the police investigative tactics were basically legitimate. According to Toshiki Odanaka, professor emeritus of criminal law at Tohoku University, the ruling is permission for police to tail and videotape their targets.

“Not only government employees but people involved in activities to raise public awareness of social issues will fear that they may be targeted by police, and these concerns will make them feel intimidated,” Odanaka said. “This effectively means a police gag.”

Now that calls have been increasing for amending the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, “activities opposed to such moves may be voluntarily halted due to concerns of possible crackdowns,” the professor said.

Horikoshi has felt the pressure, saying, “I have stopped distributing JCP fliers since my arrest.”

Toshiyuki Obora, 49, who was convicted of trespassing on the SDF residential complex to distribute the leaflets, said he has stopped posting fliers there, “as our case is still pending in the Supreme Court.”

“I want to resume our activities, but we have to be cautious as we were arrested” for an unobtrusive activity, he said. “Touts can now be detained if they repeatedly pester passersby, and maybe this will extend to people like us who distribute fliers on the street.”

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