UN 'concerned' about Japanese activist's detention

UN 'concerned' about Japanese activist's detention

Key members of the UN Human Rights Council expressed concern about the arrest and detention of a peace activist in a letter to the Japanese authorities.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and 3 Special Rapporteurs sent a statement dated February 28th to Japan's government.

The statement referred to the case of Hiroji Yamashiro, who heads the Okinawa Peace Action Center.

He was arrested last year on suspicion of assaulting a defense official while protesting the construction of US military helipads in Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa. He was indicted, and was detained for more than 5 months until March.

The statement said the charges against him represent a criminalization of his legitimate exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

The statement also alleged lack of due process, particularly in connection with his longtime detention.

It appealed to the Japanese government to take measures to guarantee his right to liberty in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Yamashiro's trial began in March at the Naha District Court. He denied injuring the official.

The Japanese government sent a response to the statement in April.

It said Yamashiro's arrest and detention were carried out appropriately based on the country's criminal procedure law. It added that the allegation of arbitrary detention is totally wrong.