Conflicts & War

Japan calls for release of filmmaker citizen arrested in Myanmar

Tokyo, Aug 1 (EFE).- Japan on Monday called for the release of independent documentary filmmaker Toru Kobuta who was arrested in Myanmar over the weekend while filming a protest against the military junta in Yangon.

The Japanese government’s deputy spokesperson Seiji Kihara told reporters that the Japanese embassy in Myanmar had confirmed the detention of a Japanese man in his 20s by the local police in Yangon.

He added that Tokyo had asked the Myanmar authorities to release him as soon as possible.

Kobuta, who in Japan had filmed the testimonies of Myanmar people who had fled the military regime in their country, is in good health and is being questioned by the authorities at a police station in Yangon, according to Japanese media reports.

Journalists have been one of the main targets of the military junta since it seized power in a coup on Feb. 1, 2021.

More than 100 journalists were imprisoned at one point after the coup while independent media have faced persecution and closure.

In April 2021, just three months after the coup, the police arrested another Japanese journalist who was covering a protest in Yangon.

Freelance reporter Yuki Kitazumi, 46, was charged with spreading false news, which is punishable by up to three years in prison, but was released a few weeks later after diplomatic mediation by the Japanese government.

The coup plunged Myanmar into a political, economic and social crisis, with clashes between the junta forces and opponents and an increase in repression.

At least 2,138 people have died as a result of violent repression by security forces, while almost 15,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested, according to data collected by the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. EFE


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