Japan Myanmar Journalist Detained
Images of Toru Kubota, a Japanese journalist detained in Myanmar while covering a protest, are displayed at the Japan Press Club in Tokyo, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Friends of Kubota gathered at the club calling for his immediate release. (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)
politics

Myanmar charges Japanese journalist with spreading fake news

10 Comments

A Japanese video journalist detained in Myanmar while covering a brief pro-democracy march has been charged with violating a law against spreading false or alarming news, the Southeast Asian country’s military government announced Thursday.

Toru Kubota, a Tokyo-based documentary filmmaker, was arrested Saturday by plainclothes police after taking images of the protest.

He is the latest of about 140 journalists arrested since the military seized power last year from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. More than half have been released, but the media remains under tight restrictions.

A military information office, the Tatmadaw True News Information Team, said in a statement that Kubota was charged with incitement, specifically causing fear, spreading false news, or agitating against a government employee. It carries a penalty of up to three years in prison. Most of Myanmar’s imprisoned journalists were charged under the same law.

Kubota is also charged with violating visa regulations The statement said Kubota arrived in Yangon from Thailand on July 1 with a tourist visa.

Kubota is the fifth foreign journalist detained in Myanmar, after U.S. citizens Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, who worked for local publications, and freelancers Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan. They were all eventually deported.

The army’s takeover was opposed by widespread peaceful protests that were suppressed with lethal force. Opposition continues with peaceful flash protests in cities and towns, and armed resistance in the countryside.

According to a detailed tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 2,148 civilians have been killed by the security forces and 14,970 arrested since the military took power.

The military statement said Kubota was detained in Yangon’s South Dagon township while taking pictures and videos of 10-15 protesters. It said he confessed to police that he had contacted participants in the protest a day earlier to arrange to film it.

The statement didn’t mention where he is being held. Two protesters in Saturday’s march were also arrested, according to the protest organizers, but there was no comment about them from the military.

Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said on Monday that “a Japanese male citizen in his 20s” was arrested Saturday while filming a demonstration in Yangon and that Japanese Embassy officials have requested his early release.

Friends of Kubota in Japan on Wednesday called for his immediate release, and an online petition has collected more than 41,000 signatures demanding his freedom.

A graduate of Tokyo’s Keio University with a master’s degree from the University of the Arts London, Kubota, 26, has done assignments for Yahoo! News Japan, Vice Japan and Al Jazeera English.

His work has focused on ethnic conflicts, immigrants and refugee issues, including the plight of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


10 Comments
Login to comment

Arrested for telling the truth.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

41,000 signatures demanding his freedom are already in the rubbish bin.

good luck Toru Kubota!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And this is exactly why we should be wary of people who tell us we have to "do something about fake news." The Myanmar junta are murdering the best and brightest among their younger generation. They are destroying Myanmar's future for cold profit. They arrest (and execute) anyone who speaks out for spreading "fake news."

Don't be like the Myanmar junta. If you don't like fake news, put out your own version of the truth and let the people decide.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As for Mr. Kubota, it's most likely from the article that he will be escorted to the border and given a strong push because even military juntas usually don't do obviously stupid things such as torture and/or execute a foreign journalist from an important country.

When did the word 'LIES' lose its currency and this euphemism, "fake news", take its place? And WHY? Of course, a brutal military junta is not going to want some loose cannon truth-teller revealing their abuses. That goes without saying. But 'fake news' is a phrase that I thought was just a trumpism and, here, we have JT using it as if it were the King's English. I just can't parse the nuance aimed for with the use of this phrase. And does this phrase or its equivalent exist in Burmese? As for Mr. Kubota, it's most likely from the article that he will be escorted to the border and given a strong push because even military juntas usually don't do obviously stupid things such as torture and/or execute a foreign journalist from an important country. But, again, what exactly is the difference between "fake news" and LIES that we need this phrase? And, the related question, given what we have seen lately of the Western media (e.g. Ukraine), what exactly is the difference between "fake news"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If he is guilty he is guilty. If the US basketball star is guilty, she is guilty. Most important thing is transparency. If burma wants to be respected, be transparent

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Rambo 4's main villain actor got his family imprisoned because of his role in the film in which he agreed to take part to raise awareness to the genocide going there, this place is no joke

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From the image, Mr Kubota looks like a bright man and his aims seem quite admirable. I look forward at some time to seeing his work.

In my previous comment, the last sentence should read: "But, again, what exactly is the difference between "fake news" and LIES that we need this phrase? And, the related question, given what we have seen lately of the Western media (e.g. Ukraine), what exactly is the difference between "fake news" AND 'NEWS'?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@WB--Instead of getting hung up on the false news side of the equation, consider that they also ban alarming news, which could be just about anything under the sun.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Their country, their rules. Where have i heard that before?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Break the law, face the consequences.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites