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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 April 16 - 22  > Victim of wartime oppressive act calls for repealing State Secrecy Law
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2014 April 16 - 22 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Victim of wartime oppressive act calls for repealing State Secrecy Law

April 17, 2014
The State Secrets Protection Law which the ruling coalition rammed through the Diet in December reminds us of the wartime Public Order Maintenance Law, which worked as a tool to oppress citizens opposing Japan’s war of aggression. A man who had been jailed for violating the wartime act is now calling for the abolition of the secrecy law.

Matsumoto Goro, a 93-year-old man living in Hokkaido, was arrested in September 1941 on charges of acting against the Public Order Maintenance Law.

In that year, Japan launched the Pacific War by making surprise attacks on the Malay Peninsula and Pearl Harbor.

In January 1941, Kumada Masago, an art teacher at the Asahikawa teachers’ training college, was apprehended on suspicion of violating the wartime legislation. After that, he received a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence. Matsumoto was a member of the college’s art club, taught by Kumada.

The reason for Matsumoto’s arrest was a picture he painted. The painting shows five students enjoying listening to classical music such as Mozart and Beethoven on a record player.

During the investigation, Special Political Police officers said to Matsumoto, “Admit that you have believed in communism and been engaged in activities to spread the idea in the school.” Additionally, they pressed him to write about the Communist International, historical materialism, and proletarian art. When Matsumoto replied that he has no idea about the communist organization he was asked about, they handed him lots of Marxism-related books, saying, “Read through these books and write in detail.” Those officers forced the aspiring artist to rewrite his “composition” again and again until they were satisfied.

On top of that, the police forged “letters” and submitted them to the court as “evidence” of the student’s involvement in the communist movement. In September 1943, Matsumoto was sentenced to one and a half years in prison.

After the end of World War II, the Public Order Maintenance Law was repealed. Matsumoto was recognized as a graduate of the college and became a teacher. He then served as principals at public primary and junior high schools in Hokkaido.

“By suppressing us, the authorities tried to nip people’s voices against the aggressive war in the bud and silence them. As a person who went through the misery of the war, I have a responsibility to tell the younger generations of my experience,” Matsumoto said.

Past related articles:
> State secrets law closely resembles 1941 national defense security law [December 1, 2013]
> ‘Human chain’ surrounds Diet demanding abolition of state secrets law [January 25, 2014]
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