A prominent critic of the Thai government in exile was attacked in his Kyoto home last month. The assault followed reports of other Thai dissidents who have disappeared or been killed in recent weeks. This incident and the others are part of a broader trend — attacks on journalists and other individuals who demand respect for democracy and an end to government abuse of human rights. Japan, the biggest source of foreign direct investment in Thailand, must speak out in defense of those rights and condemn all efforts to silence those voices.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai dissident and Japan Times contributor, forcefully denounced the military coups against democratically elected governments launched in 2006 and again in 2014. He is a former diplomat, who left Bangkok for Singapore and then moved to Japan in 2012, where he joined the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University. That move did not silence him and the junta that ruled Thailand after the 2014 coup identified him as an enemy of the country and issued a warrant for his arrest. Ever cheeky, Pavin refused to return for an interview but offered to send his dog instead.

His passport was revoked and he subsequently applied for refugee status in Japan. He remains popular in Thailand, however, with 180,000 followers on Facebook and his criticism of the Thai government, including the monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, appears regularly in media around the world.