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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 October 14 - 20  > Supreme Court must ensure proceedings over handbill posting case - Akahata editorial (excerpts)
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2009 October 14 - 20 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Supreme Court must ensure proceedings over handbill posting case
- Akahata editorial (excerpts)

October 19, 2009
In a lawsuit over the suppressed distribution of handbills in Katsushika City in Tokyo, the Supreme Court, at the request of defense counsel, postponed the day of judgment that was scheduled for October 19.

The cancellation of the planned judgment day is reasonable because a written statement for reason of appeal submitted by the defense counsel is still in process. The Supreme Court, the custodian of the Constitution, must assume its responsibility to defend the freedom of speech and of expression, as well as the principle of democracy, by carefully reviewing the case.

The case is that Arakawa Yosei, a Buddhist monk who was posting “Japanese Communist Party Katsushika City assembly members’ news” and questionnaires to residents of a housing complex, was arrested in December 2004 on a charge of “breaking into a house” and was detained for 23 days.

The hallways and stairways of the housing complex are not living spaces and shared for common use, and allow for the free entry for delivery of newspapers and mail, as well as sales promotion leaflets.

The Tokyo District Court in August 2006 made a judgment of “not guilty”, stating that the aim of entry was justifiable and that the posting did not constitute a crime. However, the Tokyo High Court in December 2007 ruled guilty by ignoring the right to freedom of expression.

The United Nations Committee on Covenants on Freedoms and Rights in October 2008 expressed concern about the fact that a political activist and government employees were arrested and prosecuted for delivering handbills critical of the government into mailboxes of private individuals. The committee advised the Japanese government to abolish any illogical legal constraints concerning the freedom of expression and political rights so that prosecutors and courts could not restrain political activities guaranteed by the Covenants on Freedoms and Rights. The advice clearly shows how Japan is far behind the world in this regard.

An association for defending the freedom of distributing handbills involving a wide range of citizens and Kokumin Kyuenkai (People’s Aid and Relief Society) has been engaged in signature campaigns to request the Supreme Court to defend the right to freedom of speech and expression, as well as democracy, by bringing the case to its Grand Bench and open oral proceedings. The Supreme Court should carefully examine the case and listen to the voice of the people as expressed in many citizens’ letters and petitions calling for a not-guilty judgment, as well as the signatures of many scholars, people of culture and religion.
- Akahata, October 19, 2009
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