Reader Mail

Beware the rise of a police state

The LDP’s big Oct. 22 win does not necessarily mean that its iron grip on power will last. The Constitutional Democratic Party’s strong debut is one indication. The LDP is also taking big risks, such as sounding sirens on North Korea for dubious reasons, pursuing misguided economic policies and aiming to continue nuclear power dependency. It may come to regret all of these.

But the prime minister’s pattern of boosting state power at the expense of personal freedoms is a particularly grave concern: one to which the electorate should pay closer attention. This could result in a police force that is even more able to act with impunity than it is now. Consider the recent (arguably brutal) treatment of Okinawan activists by the police, and the unwarranted lengthy detention of Hiroji Yamashiro, which recalls the arrest and torture of proletarian writer Takiji Kobayashi in 1933. State power was reconfirmed in Kobayashi’s home area of Akita recently when a court failed to hold the police accountable for allowing an intruder to murder a lawyer in his own home in 2010.

I have had front row seats to police unfairness, rudeness and cruelty. Someone close to me was ticketed for rolling through a yellow traffic light on a curve, even though such a move is technically legal. An officer who came to my door to find out about my household composition treated me with suspicion, even though I earned a doctoral degree at a Japanese university, and work at one, because my surname is different from my wife’s. A friend whose mother-in-law died in the bath was accused of foul play by the police. As state, police and LDP power grow, be afraid. Be very afraid. I am — too afraid, in fact, to attach my name to this letter.