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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 March 30 - April 5  > Court rules police restriction on people’s voices critical of government unconstitutional
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2022 March 30 - April 5 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Court rules police restriction on people’s voices critical of government unconstitutional

March 31, 2022

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Sapporo District Court recently issued a ruling ordering the Hokkaido Prefectural government to pay compensation to two citizens. In the 2019 House of Councilors election campaign, the two shouted to then Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, “Resign Abe!” and “No tax hike!”, during his street speech in Sapporo City. Soon after that they were removed by police officers. The court recognized that the removal of the plaintiffs by the police damaged their right to free speech. It is significant that the court ruled such a police action as illegal and unconstitutional.

Referring to the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, the court ruling described it as a basic human right which is essential in the political process of constitutional democracy. The ruling also defined free speech as an important right that lays the foundation of a democratic society. The court acknowledged the two citizens’ act of raising outcries against PM Abe as “an expression regarding public and political issues” which is a right that should always be respected.

Regarding the plaintiffs’ claim that one of them was tailed by police officers after the removal, the court recognized that the police action constitutes infringement of the freedom of action and movement as well as the right to privacy.

Unjust obstruction by the police to people’s action expressing critical views against the prime minister and the government is unacceptable as it undermines the foundation of democracy.

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