Appeal hearing begins in Tokyo over false accusation of illegal exports

An appeal hearing began in Tokyo on Wednesday over a civil case in which executives of a Japanese chemical machinery manufacturer were falsely arrested and charged with illegal exports.

Three executives of the Yokohama-based Ohkawara Kakohki were arrested in 2020 by Tokyo police for allegedly exporting illegally to China and elsewhere machinery that could be converted for military purposes. They were indicted, but the prosecution later, in a rare case, revoked the indictment, dropping the charges, and the three men were deemed innocent.

The executives sued the central and Tokyo Metropolitan governments.

Last December, the Tokyo District Court judged the police investigations and prosecutors' indictment illegal, and ordered the state and Tokyo to pay a total of some 162 million yen, or about one million dollars, in damages.

But the district court did not refer to testimony by a police investigator that the accusation was fabricated. Both the firm executives and investigative authorities appealed.

At the Tokyo High Court on Wednesday, the manufacturer claimed that the police fabricated the evidence and the prosecution indicted without additional investigation.

It submitted new evidence, including a police memo which, the manufacturer says, suggests that investigators partially deleted the results of tests on the machinery.

The investigative authorities said that they take the retraction of indictment seriously, but they did not conduct illegal investigations.

They demanded that the nine relevant police officers be examined as witnesses to prove their claim.

The high court will decide next month or later whether to examine a total of 11 witnesses, including those called by the manufacturer's side.

One of the three executives died of cancer which was diagnosed while he was in detention. In March, the Tokyo District Court turned down a damages claim sought by his bereaved family over the death resulting from alleged lack of proper medical care during his detention.