The Dec. 6 editorial, “Freedom of expression takes a hit,” is on the mark in two respects. We should worry about what has become of freedom of expression when the Supreme Court upholds a a previous court ruling against a Buddhist monk for “trespassing” because he distributed Japanese Communist Party fliers inside a public condominium. As well, the fact that he was held in detention for 23 days strongly suggests he was being persecuted because of his politics.
The only thing missing in the analysis was that this is not the first time police and prosecutors have made use of lengthy detentions as a form of intimidation. In the 1980s and ’90s, friends were detained for even longer periods because they engaged in unsanctioned protests against the then alien registration law and its fingerprinting requirement. When one adds to that the increasing number of cases of alleged forced confessions, one needs to ask if the true criminals aren’t those who are supposed to be upholding the Japanese Constitution.
Ultimately one must ask, why the deafening silence from the public in the face of such repression? The media need to ask if their relatively anemic coverage of citizens’ movements, such as the current anti-Okinawan base movement, hasn’t contributed to public ignorance and disinterest in social issues, thus helping to enable the usurping of our rights by the police and the courts.