Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 17:30:07 -0500
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>>> Item number 10287, dated 96/10/17 17:39:45—ALL
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 17:39:45 GMT
Reply-To: Arm The Spirit <>
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From: Arm The Spirit <>
Subject: Japanese Anti-Emperor Activists Win Lawsuit Against Police

Anti-Imperial Activists Win Lawsuit Against Police

The Japan Times, Thursday 17 October 1996

In a civil suit filed by activists opposed to the emperor system, the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday ordered the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to pay them damages for unlawful arrests and battery by Tokyo police.

Three people are to receive 500,000 yen each ($5000) and one is to get 300,000 yen ($3000).

The plaintiffs, all members or sympathizers of 'Aki no Arashi' (Autumnal Storm), a citizens' group advocating the abolition of the Imperial system, had participated in a series of rallies following the January 7, 1989 death of Emperor Showa.

On the afternoon of January 8, 1989, one of the plaintiffs was delivering a speech on a street near Tokyo's Meiji Shrine, using a public address system. Police ordered the speech be stopped and the activsts leave because they had failed to notify them of their plans for a demonstration beforehand. The plaintiffs were among about 100 demonstrators at the events.

Shortly after the warning, police arrested two of the plaintiffs on suspicion of obstructing the execution of police duties.

Two of the other plaintiffs were arrested January 15, 1989 at a rally protesting the preceding arrests. One of them had attached a banner saying Good-Bye Hirohito to an overpass at Tokyo's Yoyogi Park.

On February 18, 1989, another plaintiff was kicked by a police officer near Meiji Shrine. She had been distributing handouts to passersby.

Presiding Judge Yasushi Sato said that there is no evidence to substantiate that the three plaintiffs used violence against police officers, or that there was a significant chance they would flee. As for the police battery on the plaintiff passing out the flyers, the judge ruled that the kicking had been unnecessary.

One of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Hiroshi Akabane, said in a news conference that the case was not just a simple example of illegal arrests but an indication of thought police.

The plaintiffs, who are now in their 20s or early 30s, declared victory. The Metropolitan Police Department said it will appeal the decision.

A key factor in the plaintiffs' triumph was videotape of arrest scenes and police battery that the court accepted as reliable evidence.

During the hearings, the metropolitan government claimed it was controlling unlawful activities but did not sumbit any documents as evidence of what happened during the arrests.

The four plaintiffs had demanded one million yen ($10,000) each in compensation under the State Redress Law, arguing that the police restricted their freedom of speech and inflicted physical pain.

Emperor Showa was ill in bed after falling down in September 1988. For several months afterward, the nation was enveloped by a mood of self-restraint during which festive activities were avoided, partly out of fear of social criticism or attacks from right-wingers.