From WEEKLY MDS No.873, Feb. 4, 2005 issue logo

Series of Extraordinary Suppression of Free Speech / Block Warfare Nation Buildup at Local Community Level

Unjust accusation of flyer distribution

A man who was arrested and detained for distributing flyers in a condominium building in Katsushika-ku, Tokyo, on a charge of trespassing, was unjustly prosecuted on Jan. 11. He was merely distributing flyers including a Japanese Communist Party member's report on the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly by putting them into mailboxes built in the door, which act constitutes no crime whatsoever. This prosecution is political clampdown dared against the Constitution, aimed to trample down freedom of speech and expression.

The arrest on Dec. 23, 2004 took place only one week after the Tokyo District Court's Hachioji branch acquitted the defendants of the case of leaflet distribution at the Tachikawa Self-Defense Forces (Japanese troops) housing quarters, defending freedom of political expression as the foundation of democracy. The Katsushika incident exposes the stance of those in power: a hostility toward the righteous decision of the district court defending freedom of speech and a desire to eradicate even humble acts like flyer distribution.

Besides the Katsushika and Tachikawa cases, a worker of the Social Insurance Agency was arrested and accused of violation of the National Public Service Law in March 2004 for distributing the Akahata newspaper's extra news. Yet in another case in Dec. 2004, an ex-teacher at Tokyo Prefectural Itabashi Senior High School was accused of forcible obstruction of business for distributing flyers against Kimigayo (Japan's "national anthem") at a graduation ceremony.

Clampdown on flyer distribution does not simply target the Communist Party or the organizations directly involved. It is an attack to destroy the backbone of democracy, freedom of speech and expression. We all should raise voices of protest to win not-guilty verdicts.

Stomping on antiwar actions

Those incidents of flyer distribution clampdown are characteristic in that the attacks were precisely directed under prepared plans with effort to have local residents involved. Apparently, the arrests took place according to report from some residents. Behind the scene, however, the police and the SDF had worked hard to encourage local residents and eventually coerced them to file an offence report. They were not happenstances. They were acts according to deliberate planning. In the case of the arrest and accusation of the Social Insurance Agency worker, illegal measures had been employed for a period as long as one year preceding the arrest, including tailing and sneak video shooting.

By leveraging "cooperation" of neighborhood associations and local residents, the Japanese government is now driving measures to forge a system that helps them screen out, monitor and suppress protesters against the "national policy," that is, the formation of a warfare nation and overseas deployment of the Japanese troops. In particular, under the Tokyo metropolitan administration led by fascist Governor ISHIHARA Shintaro, attempts are made to develop a clampdown model for other prefectures around the country to follow in suppressing antiwar movements and oppositions to use of Japan's national anthem and flag in school ceremonies.

The police authority and the SDF aim to forge a system supportive of war by setting up "civilian protection" councils under the Civilian Protection Law as tools to penetrate local public entities and residents. Within fiscal year 2005, each local government will be pressed to establish a "civilian protection" council and a manual for implementing a "civilian protection" plan combined with joint training with the SDF troops. That is how the SDF and police plot to take over residents' disaster prevention organizations and to contain objections, that is, antiwar voices among residents.

Counterattack with Non-Defended Localities Movement

Repelling the formation of a warfare nation is the Non-Defended Localities Movement based on the Geneva Conventions (International Humanitarian Law), a movement for creating antiwar communities.

Toward enactment of a Non-Defended Locality ordinance, residents of Arakawa-ku, Tokyo, have collected signatures for direct petition in number exceeding the statutory requirement. Another signature-collecting drive is to start in the city of Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. Also, residents in the cities of Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and Nara are currently preparing to join the move.

The Article 74 of the Local Autonomy Law protects signature-collecting activities for direct petition. Whoever obstructs such activities is subject to strict punishment, without exempting any police authority or local government. Our effort toward direct petition for enactment of a Non-Defended Locality ordinance is in itself effective to inspire communities with freedom of speech/expression and democracy, definitely including freedom of flyer distribution.

Extend the Non-Defended Localities Movement to all corners of Japan. Repel the moves of warfare nation buildup and attacks on freedom of speech. (Jan. 24)

Weekly MDS