No More Police Harassment Against Anti-Olympics Activists in Tokyo

No More Police Harassment Against Anti-Olympics Activists in Tokyo

On March 25, the Olympic Torch Relay began from J-Village in the town of Naraha in Fukushima Prefecture. Even as coronavirus infection numbers increase around Japan and the 2011 nuclear disaster remains unresolved, the government and Olympics organizers are determined to hold the Olympic and Paralympic Games at all costs.

Amid the lead-up to the Games, Tokyo Metropolitan Police officers from Setagaya Police Station have continued to harass one of our fellow activists involved in protesting the Olympics.

On the morning of January 6, four male police officers claiming to be from Setagaya Police Station came to the tent where one of our activists, A, lives and presented her with a formal written request to cooperate with their inquiries by appearing at the station for an interview. When she refused to accept the documentation, the officers suddenly entered her tent without permission, making an aggressive and unacceptable infringement on her privacy. On March 29, police once again left a written demand for her to appear for questioning at the police station on April 6.

The harassment goes back more than a year to February 18, 2020, when police conducted an unjust search of A’s tent on the pretext of inaccurately registered information. This alleged “crime” was a ploy in which police seized an excuse to harass an activist and confiscate her belongings. These were eventually all returned to A with the exception of three strands of hair, which police have kept. When police return confiscated items, it normally indicates the end of an investigation. In fact, the police never conducted the inquiries that should in theory have accompanied the initial search they did. And yet officers have continued to make intermittent requests for A to come to the station for further inquiries.

Under the law, a citizen is under no obligation to comply with such a request. The raid conducted on A’s tent in 2020 was nothing less than an unjust act of oppression against the anti-Olympics movement in Tokyo by seizing information on the movement and putting pressure on our members and resources. As such, it is perfectly right that A has refused to comply with these subsequent requests. But the police still continue to make them as well as follow her and conduct surveillance in ways that infringe upon her right to live her life without harassment.

As part of the efforts to force through the Olympics as an event that supposedly unites the nation around a single message, police are targeting A because she has protested against the Games. Now the Olympics reveals its true colors: it ignores opposition voices, prioritizes spectacle like the Torch Relay in spite of the risks, tries to gag or quash protest, escalates surveillance of citizens, and violates human rights.

We demand that Setagaya Police Station immediately cease its harassment of activists as well as its surveillance and flagrant attempts to suppress protests against the Olympics.

April 10, 2021

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