We denounce the arrests and detentions of participants in excessively policed demonstrations.
July 9, 2008
Network of Lawyers Observing Human Rights Around the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit (WATCH)
The "7-5 Challenge the G8 Summit Peace Walk for 10,000" was held on July 5 in the city of Sapporo, and in sharp contrast with the peaceful demonstration itself, a markedly excessive and aggressive police presence constituted a flagrant violation of human rights. All along the walk's route, plainclothes police security officers recorded and took pictures of demonstrators with cameras, and fully armed riot units stood in formation along both sides of the march to prevent average citizens from being able to view the demonstration.
Furthermore, in addition to pounding on a sound truck's glass window with batons, police dragged the man sitting in the driver's seat out of the vehicle and took him and a total of four individuals (one of whom is a reporter) to jail for interfering with official police duties or violating traffic laws.
The reporter was released on July 8, but on the same day the Prosecutor's unjust request for the other three to be held in detention at the Sapporo Regional Court was approved.
The Constitution safeguards citizens' rights to express opinions to others and others' freedom to access or receive those opinions. Toward that end, demonstration marches serve as inextricable pillars that support our right to assemble in a constitutional democracy and therefore must be cared for and protected, and any restrictions must be limited to the absolute bare minimum. However, the aforementioned excessive policing and unjust arrests ran roughshod over our right to freedom of _expression.
Therefore, we object to the arrests of the four individuals as significant violations of their constitutionally protected freedom of _expression, we strongly denounce the specifics of the arrests themselves, and we object to the decision to detain the remaining three and call for their immediate release.
[the groups approve this statement]
2008 Japan G8 Summit NGO Forum
Hokkaido Peoples’ Forum on G8 Summit
G8 Action Network
Counter-G8 International Forum
We denounce the arrests and detentions of participants in excessively policed demonstrations.
We Urgently Denounce the Denial of Visas and Entry to Japan to Members of Civic Organizations and NGOs in Connection with the G8 Summit
We Urgently Denounce the Denial of Visas and Entry to Japan to Members of Civic Organizations and NGOs in Connection with the G8 Summit, and We Strongly Insist Again that Nothing Interfere with Opportunities for Members of Civic Movements to Exercise Freedom of Speech, Expression, and Assembly.
July 4, 2008
Network of Lawyers Observing Human Rights Around the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit (WATCH)
In response to the Hokkaido Toyako (G8) Summit, which is being held from July 7th through the 9th, many civic organizations and NGOs have planned seminars and international colloquia on problems related to the environment, peace, human rights, poverty, and development. However, over the past two days there have been reports of case after case of individuals connected to these civic organizations and NGOs who were scheduled to attend these events, but were refused visas to travel to Japan on site at embassies or denied entry to Japan at airports.
To the extent that we are able to stay on top of these developments, we have learned that over the past two days members of Bangladeshi NGOs were denied visas at the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka without any explanation regarding the reason.
Meanwhile yesterday at the Chitose International Airport, all nineteen members of a farmers' organization from Korea were denied entry on the grounds that they had no proof documenting their plans for their stay in Japan.
In addition to such developments, an individual with an international NGO based in the Philippines gave up on coming to Japan after delays in the visa issuance process, and it concerns us that similar visa delays and denials will continue with similar effects.
These members of civic organizations and NGOs received official invitations from civic organizations and NGOs in Japan, and many were scheduled to speak at seminars. Challenges and difficulties such as restrictions on visas without any particular reason or explanation provided on the grounds that the G8 Summit is convening or the draconian demand to produce proof documenting one's plans in order to be granted entry can only be understood as attempts to deprive citizens the opportunity to freely exchange and express opinions on the most pressing issues facing our world. Not only does this affect civic organizations and NGOs, but it also gives international society reason to lose trust in Japan.
We were in the midst of protesting the recently enhanced immigration restrictions imposed on scholars and reporters around the G8 Summit and now also call on the Japanese government immediately to halt the denials and delays of visas and entry to Japan to members of civic organizations and NGOs and ensure that nothing impedes the rights of citizens to exercise freedom of speech, expression, and assembly.
[the groups approve this statement]
2008 Japan G8 Summit NGO Forum
Hokkaido Peoples’ Forum on G8 Summit
G8 Action Network
Questions and Answers: Legal information for temporary visitors to Japan 1
1. General information for everyday life
Q1 Do I have to carry my passport with me at all times?
Yes. During your stay in Japan, you must carry your passport and show it to police officers, security police officers and drug control officers etc., whenever they ask. If you do not have your passport with you or if you refuse to show it to a police officer, you may be subject to fines or detainment. You have the right to demand to see a police officer's ID, but even if a police official does not comply with your
request, you still are not entitled to refuse the demand to show your passport in return.
However, a police officer can only ask you to show her or him your passport. If she or he starts writing down the information in your passport, you should protest strongly and demand that the officer destroy her or his memo.
Furthermore, if non-Japanese without domicile in Japan want to stay in hotels and other accommodation facilities, they must show their passport to the manager and let her or him photocopy it.
Besides, it is a crime to enter false name, address, profession or other information into a hotel register when checking in. Please be careful because even such a minor crime will give the police an opportunity to arrest you or to carry out other repressions.
Q2: Is the drug control strict in Japan?
Yes! Japan pursues a zero-tolerance policy regarding drug consumption (Slogan: „No. Absolutely") and controls drug crimes very strictly. For instance, the possession, handing over or receiving of cannabis is punishable with up to 5 years imprisonment, and the importation of cannabis to Japan is punishable with up to 7 years imprisonment. In Europe and the US, criminal prosecution against the possession and consumption of small amounts of "soft" drugs maybe very mild, but not in Japan. Please do not expect the Japanese authorities to be generous with you, just because you come from a country which has good diplomatic relationships with Japan.
Furthermore, drinking and smoking is prohibited for people under 20 years.
2. Police conduct
Q3: In what circumstances would I be questioned by the police?
If a police officer believes someone is behaving strangely or if the police officer has reason to suspect an individual of having committed or of trying to commit any crime, or if a police officer has reason to believe someone has knowledge regarding crimes which have been committed or which are going to be committed, the officer has the right to stop and question the individual. This is called "police questioning," or shokumu-shitsumon in Japanese. (Police Code of Conduct, Article 2, Paragraph 1)
As staying illegally in Japan is a crime, there is always the possibility that non-Japanese people could be subjected to police questioning simply for being "foreigners." Because police questioning can be carried out in public spaces, such as railway stations, you should be careful.
The police officer is allowed to ask you to follow him to a nearby police station if it is disadvantageous for you to be questioned at the place where you are being stopped, or if the questioning disturbs the traffic. (Police Code of Conduct, Article 2, Paragraph 2)
Q4: Do I have the right to refuse to be questioned or to be taken to the police station?
The police can question or take people to the police station only on a voluntary basis. They cannot force people to answer questions or to go to the police station. (Police Code of Conduct, Article 2, Paragraph 3)
Therefore, you can refuse to answer questions or be taken to a station. However, the police question Non-Japanese often in order to know whether they are staying illegally in Japan. So, they are often satisfied when you show your passport and the resident status (which is marked in your passport and determines the purpose of your stay), something you must do anyway (see Q1). So it may not be really useful to refuse to give answers to the police questioning categorically.
If you refuse the questioning, a police officer may call other police officers via transistor and ask them for support. Then, it is possible that several police officers will arrive, surround you and not let you go until you answer the questions.
Q5: If I refuse the questioning and try to walk away, is it possible that the police officers will use physical force to make me stay, such as grabbing my shoulders?
Police questioning happens only on voluntary basis, but according to the Japanese Supreme Court, in some cases, it is legal that the police use physical force to prevent you from walking away, if the questioning is immediately necessary and appropriate in the respective case. For instance, the Supreme Court decided in one case that holding the wrists of a person was legal to convince that person to answer to the question. (Supreme Court, Third Circuit Ruling of March 16, 1976)
If you use physical force against the police officer or threaten her or him to stop using physical force against you, you can be arrested immediately for obstructing official duties.
It happens also sometimes, that the police officer falls on the ground intentionally during the questioning and that she or he arrests the questioned person immediately for using "violence" and obstructing official duties.
Please be aware that you can be arrested for obstructing official duties, if you touch or body check the police officer.
Q6: Does a police officer have the right to search my bag during questioning?
There is no express provision in the law, but there are certain situations addressed by a Japanese Supreme Court decision. (Supreme Court, Third Circuit Ruling of June 20, 1978)
According to the Supreme Court, the police have the right to search bags in connection with questioning if it is appropriate with regard to the legal interests of the person being searched on the one hand and the public interests on the other.
Therefore, in cases of minor crimes, it is not lawful for police to search your bags, so you should refuse any search verbally and clearly. If you do not refuse explicitly, the police officer can interpret your behavior as tacit consent, so it is necessary to refuse the bag search explicitly.
Q7: Do I have to let the police search my bag, when I want to go into a building in order to attend an assembly, and when the police have set up a checkpoint at the entrance?
Unfortunately, the police carry out such entrance controls. But it is not lawful to search bags of participants of an assembly generally and against their will. Therefore, you should refuse the bag search strongly, but be careful not to touch or body check or use any kind of force against the police officer.
Q8: What shall I do if a police officer asks me to go with him to a police station?
Voluntary compliance with such a request is truly voluntary, and a police officer cannot force you to go to a police station. (See also Q2)
Therefore, you can unambiguously and firmly refuse the request.
It is advisable that you quickly consult with an attorney if you do refuse, because police can obtain a court order and try to arrest you.
Q9: What can I do if a police officer keeps following me while I am moving from one place to another?
Tailing (following) a person is considered to be a legal manner of investigation with the voluntary consent of the person concerned. Be aware that he is following you in order to learn whom you meet and where you are staying. Legally, it is difficult to make the police officer stop following you, so please be conscious that you can be followed at anytime when moving from one place to another.
Q10: What should I watch out for if the police come to search my house?
It is not uncommon for home searches to be carried out around 7 a.m., so please be careful in the morning. Before searching your house, the police officers need to ask a judge for a written permission for house search and seizure of objects. In most of the
cases, the judge issues the permission.
Normally, police search the house of a person suspected of a crime after she or he has been arrested. But it is also possible for the police to search a home in order to collect information about organizations, movements, and relationships among activists on the grounds of investigating a suspected crime committed by "unknown persons" as a form of preliminary repression.
When the police officers arrive, they first have to show you the written permission issued by a judge for house search and seizure of objects. In this permission, items are listed such as the name of the suspect, the charge, the place to be searched and the objects to be seized. Please ask the police to translate and to explain to you properly what is written in the permission. In order to be able to file complaints against the police afterwards, it is recommended to write down or read aloud and record the information given in the permission.
After the house search, you have the right to receive a list of seized objects from the responsible police officer. If no object has been seized, ask for the certificate of house search.
Q11: Do the police have the right to search my body during the house search?
The police have no right to search your body if they only have a permission for house search and seizure. But with a written permission of a judge for personal searches, the police can search people who are named in the permission or who are at the place being searched. Women are searched physically by female police officers.
The police officer usually looks inside your bag or inside your pockets, makes you take off your jacket or your shoes, or touches your trousers, but there were also cases where people had to take off everything except their underwear.
Q 12 What should I do if my belongings have been seized in the course of a house search?
You can file a complaint regarding illegal seizures by the police at the District Court at the place where the seizure took place. (Criminal Code, Article 430)
If you file a complaint, and provided that the seized objects have apparently nothing to do with the allegation, the police may return them immediately without a decision by the court.
3. Questions and Answers when going to a demonstration
Q13: What do I have to consider when going to a demonstration?
The police observe demonstrations and await every opportunity to arrest protesters. So it is important for you to consider the following points.
Wear comfortable and firm-fitting shoes and clothing that doesn't expose much of your skin. There will be security police officers photographing the protesters (lately they use digital cameras), so if you do not want to be photographed, wear sunglasses, masks and hats. Take only as few things as necessary to the demo, such as a handkerchief, tissues and cash. Everything you carry will be taken away by the police during your detention if you are arrested. However, make sure to carry your passport in case a police officer questions you.
Try not to be alone at the demo. Make sure you are with at least a few other people.
Q14: What am I prohibited to take to the demo? Can I wear protective gear? Can I carry flag poles?
Prohibited objects are listed in the written permission of the demo. Please ask the organisers of the demo beforehand. It is not prohibited to cover your face or wear protective gear. However, dangerous objects are generally prohibited. Flag poles are usually not prohibited, but depending on how you use it, it can be considered a dangerous object.
Q15: Am I allowed to organise or participate at unpermitted or spontaneous demos?
No. In order to organise a demo in Japan, you have to apply for a permit at least 72 hours before the demo. Unpermitted demos and assemblies are subject to police intervention.
Q16: What kind of different types of police observe the demo? How do I recognize them? Do they have different rights?
There are 2 different types of police officers, the riot police and other police officers. They have the same rights, but the riot police are heavily equipped. There are also plainclothes officers of the Public Security Intelligence Agency („secret police“) who walk on the pavement and collect information and photograph/film the protesters. They do not have the right to interfere directly in the demo.
Q17: What rights do I have if photographed or filmed by the police or the media? Can I photograph or film the police officers?
According to the Supreme Court, everybody has the freedom not to be filmed or photographed without permission. However, there is an important exception to the above right, if
- a crime is apparently being committed or apparently has been committed,
- and the conservation of evidence is immediately necessary,
- and the filming or photographing does not exceed the generally
In such cases, the police can photograph or film a person without her or his consent and without the written permission of the judge. (Supreme Court, Superior Ruling of December 24, 1969)
For instance, if someone acts against the conditions of the permission of the demonstration, the police might take pictures of her or him in the act of violating the so-called Public Safety Ordinance which rules the legal conditions of a demonstration.
Irrespective of the opinion of the Supreme Court, the security police photograph and film people just for walking on the public street.
If police officers photograph/film you with disregard for the above conditions imposed by the Supreme Court, you can protest their actions. In severe cases, you can file a suit for compensation.
If you are filmed by the media, you can protest. However, taking part at a demo and exposing oneself to the public can be interpreted as a tacit consent to being photographed and filmed.
There are court decisions that police officers and other government employees on duty do not have "portrait rights" (the right that people may assert not to have their picture taken, published, or otherwise disseminated) while on duty.
Q18: What are the conditions of an arrest?
There are two different situations at a demo where an arrest can take place:
1. In flagrant delict, which means if the police officer recognizes that someone is in fact committing a crime or someone has in fact just finished committing a crime.
2. In quasi-flagrant delict, which means if the police officer recognizes clearly that a crime has just been finished,
a) people call after a person that she or he is the offender of the crime, OR
b) a person possesses a stolen or any other illegally obtained object, or a
weapon or any other object which was apparently used for the crime, OR
c) if there are traces of evidence at the body or at the clothes of a person
that she or he has committed a crime, OR
d) if someone runs away after being questioned by a police officer.
If you feel unjustly arrested, say to the police officer that there is no reason to arrest you, and protest the arrest. Also, try to appeal to the passers-by and ask them to help you.
If you get arrested, tell the people your name and ask them to organise
Q19: What are the common charges when arrested on demos?
Common charges are: obstructing official duties, trespassing, violation of Road Traffic Act, obstructing business by force, but any other minor crime can provide justification for an arrest. Police also invent crimes from time to time.
Q20: What happens if I am arrested?
Once you are arrested, you are handcuffed and taken to the nearby police station.
At the police station, the police make a "deposition of pleading" which is a written statement of what you say about the accusations.
The procedure is as follows:
1. They tell you what facts you are accused of.
2. They ask you whether you admit these facts.
3. Then they make a document about what you say.
4. And ask you to sign and to place your seal (sign) on the document.
At this point, the police tell you that you have the right to appoint a lawyer. You have no right to a phone call, so that you cannot call for a lawyer by yourself. But you can ask the police officer to call for a lawyer. There are two different possibilities to choose a lawyer:
You can ask for a duty lawyer, in Japanese tôban bengoshi. A duty lawyer is organised by the the local bar association which is an organisation of local lawyers. The local bar association holds a list of local lawyers who serve as a duty lawyer . Of all these listed lawyers, the one who is on duty on the day of your request will come to meet you. The first consultation by the duty lawyer is for free.
You can imagine the duty lawyer as an emergency doctor who gives you a first-aid treatment. The duty lawyer interviews the arrested person in the absence of police officers and listens to what the arrestee says, gives her or him explanation
about her or his rights and the legal procedure and she or he arranges communication between the arrestee and the outside world. If you have invitation groups or other groups who are in charge of taking care of you, ask the duty lawyer to contact them on your behalf.
After the first meeting with the duty lawyer, if you wish to continue to have a legal support by that lawyer during the investigation, you have to appoint the duty lawyer as a private defense lawyer and, basically, pay money. However, it is possible to make use of financial aid. See Q10 for details.
Instead of the duty lawyer, you can also appoint a lawyer who is chosen by the Kyûen Renraku Center („Support Contact Center“, tel. 03-3591-1301), an organisation which specializes in organising support for arrested activists. See Q9 for the difference between the duty lawyer and the lawyer chosen by the Kyûen Renraku Center.
If you want to ask for a duty lawyer, just say to the police officer that you want him to call for a duty lawyer. Then the police will contact the nearby bar association which will send a duty lawyer and an interpreter to you on the same day or on the next at the latest.
If you want to appoint a lawyer chosen by the Kyûen Renraku Center, just say so to the police officer. In this case, the police will contact the Kyûen Renraku Center.
Besides, not only the arrested person, but also her or his friends and supporters can make a direct phone call in order to ask for a lawyer.
Sapporo Bar Association 011-272-1010
Kyûen Renraku Center 03-3591-1301
WATCH 080-3410-2780 (for questions)
Before you enter the cell, your body and personal belongings will be searched, and everything you have (including your watch and belt) will be taken away until you are freed. Mobile phones can be seized as evidence, which means the police can keep them for a while even after your release. If the police try to take away your glasses, you should say that you need them and protest clearly.
You also get photographed and fingerprinted, which you cannot refuse.
Q21: What is the difference between the duty lawyer and the lawyer chosen by the Kyûen Renraku Center? Who schould I ask for?
The lawyer chosen by the Kyûen Renraku Center is experienced in advocating for activists who are arrested for political activism, whereas there is no guarantee that the duty lawyer has experiences and understanding in that area.
However, lawyers who work with the Kyûen Renraku Center are mostly located in Tokyo, so in Hokkaido, the support by the Kyûen Renraku Center may be limited. Also, for people who do not speak Japanese, it might be also difficult for the Kyûen Renraku Center to organise an interpreter. So, if an international activist is arrested in Hokkaido, it might be better for her or him to ask for a duty lawyer, because the local bar association is more likely to be able to send you an interpreter along with the duty lawyer.
Q22: Can I make use of financial aid to pay the lawyer’s fee?
In general, if someone is arrested at a demo, the organiser of the demo will organise a support group for her or him. This support group will collect donations to help you pay your lawyer.
Apart from that, each local bar association offers financial aid. For details, please ask the duty lawyer or any other lawyer you choose.
Q23: Can I contact the consular representative of my country after my arrest?
Non-Japanese have the right to contact the consular representative of her or his country if detained. For practical purposes, the police station has a form to ask the arrestee whether she or he wants to contact the consul. The consular representative can help you contact your family in your country, to organise documents from your country, find an interpreter, etc.
Q24: Do I have the right to remain silent? In which aspects can I remain silent?
You have the right to remain completely silent if you want, but the Supreme Court does not recognize a right to remain silent concerning your name. (Supreme Court, Superior Ruling of February 20, 1957)
However, if you are not a Japanese citizen and the police take away your passport, they will know your name, date of birth, nationality, etc. anyhow, so there may be no meaning in you remaining silent about these topics. Apart from that, you do not have to tell to the police where you are staying at in Japan.
During the questioning, do not confess to anything that you did not do. Once a confession is made, it will be used as an evidence against you, and it is extremely difficult to discredit the confession later in court. It is therefore very dangerous to think that you can lie during the questioning but tell the truth at the trial.
Q25: Will there be an interpreter when the police officer questions me?
- there is no interpreter to translate the interrogation into your first
- the interpreter is not good enough, OR
- you have doubts about the ability or the fairness of an interpreter,
you may refuse to cooperate with the questioning and ask for a reliable interpreter or a lawyer.
Q26: How does the criminal procedure go on after the arrest?
You are handed over to the Public Prosecutor's Office within 48 hours after the arrest, then, within another 24 hours, the public prosecutor has to decide whether to submit a request to the judge to detain you. If the judge approves the request, you can be kept in detention for basically 10 days, but the detention may be extended for another 10 days.
In some cases, you can be released earlier than after 23 days, but please do not believe that you will not be kept for such a long time just because you are a Non-Japanese.
Within 20 days after the approval of the detention by the judge, you must be released unless the prosecutor indicts you.
If you are indicted, your detention continues until the end of the trial, unless you request to be released on bail and pay the bail upon the approval of your request.
The first court session will be held about one and a half months after the indictment. If the procedure terminates in one session, the decision of the court will pronounce the judgment in the second court session within another 2 weeks.
Q27: Where will the arrestee be detained?
The arrestees are kept in a police cell even after the judge's decision of detention, a practice which is called the "substitute prison" and criticised internationally.
During the detention, you will be under total control of the police and may be subject to long-hour questionings which can continue after 9 p.m. when the sleeping hours start.
Q28: Who am I allowed to meet after I am arrested?
In most of the cases, the judge decides to forbid you to have any contact with anyone other than the lawyer and to receive anything from outside the detention facilities. In this case, you have to ask the lawyer to visit you frequently so that you can have contact with the people outside.
Q29: What can I do if I want to appeal my detention?
You can file complaints against the judge's decision to detain you and to extend your detention. However, there is little chance for you to be released.
But it is possible that the complaints might help reduce the duration of the detention.
You can request that the judge who decided to detain you explain the reasons of the detention in a public court session only once during your detention. Everyone can attend this session and sometimes the media come to cover the session. In this proceeding, the detainee and his or her lawyer have the opportunity to give statements and denounce the unjust detention.
Q30: Are there any criminal procedures other than court trials?
If the criminal procedure concerns a fine under 100 million yen, the judge can fix a fine just after the examination of the documents. This summary procedure is only possible if you have confessed to the crime. If you pay the fine, you will be released.
Q31: Will I be deported if I am arrested? When will it happen?
If a Non-Japanese is arrested in a criminal case, the criminal procedure has priority towards the deportation or other procedures covered under the Immigration Law. Even if you want to go back to your country, it is not possible until the criminal case has been terminated.
If you are indicted and sentenced to prison without suspension, basically, you have to stay in a Japanese prison.
If you are arrested, you do not lose your resident status automatically. But it can happen that you have to stay longer in Japan than you were initially approved by the immigration authorities due to the criminal case. In such cases, upon the termination of the criminal case, you will be immediately put into a special facility and subject to deportation, even if you are not indicted, or exonerated, or given a suspended sentence or even if the execution of the sentence is terminated. Once a deportation procedure has commenced, the concerned person will actually be deported. In very rare
cases, the Minister of Justice can grant a special permission to stay.
In Protest Over the Japanese Ministry of Justice and Immigration Service's Unjust Restrictions on Members of Scholarly and Media Communities Attempting to Enter Japan and to Protect Freedom of Speech and Expression
Network of Lawyers Observing Human Rights Around the G8 Hokkaido Toyako
June 30, 2008
Eleven well-known international scholars scheduled to be panelists at the Counter-G8 International Forum being held in Tokyo from June 30 until July 1 have been detained at the airport and subjected to long hours of questioning. Several of these scholars were refused entry because their plans for the days between meetings were not clear. Later they were given special permission for entry with their planned time limit significantly shortened.
Meanwhile, many international journalists and media workers coming to Japan to cover events related to the G8 Summit continue to be held and questioned in a similar manner and for no particular reason at various airports.
These measures constitute the unjust immigration detention of scholars and media workers. This is not only an infringement on the expression of various opinions, feelings, and perspectives on the G8, it also has a profoundly chilling effect on investigative research and reporting.
Our network urges the Ministry of Justice and Immigration Services Bureaus of Administration to halt these unjust immigration screenings immediately and resume the usual screening practices in order to protect freedom of expression and intellectual freedom during the G8 Summit.