Japanese man detained in Myanmar, government spokesman says

USA & World

Japanese man detained in Myanmar, government spokesman says

A Japanese government spokesman has confirmed the detention of a Japanese man in Myanmar, with Tokyo calling for his release as soon as possible.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara told a news conference on Monday that a Japanese man in his 20s had been detained after filming a demonstration on July 30.

Kihara said the Japanese embassy in Myanmar has been pressing the ruling State Administration Council for the man’s release.

Kihara did not name the detainee, but Japanese media reports identified him as documentary filmmaker Toru Kubota.

Kubota has reported for outlets including Al Jazeera and VICE Japan, focusing on ethnic conflict and refugee issues, according to his personal website.

At least 135 journalists have been detained in Myanmar since the coup, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Kubota would be the fifth foreign journalist to be detained, following US citizens Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, and Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan. All four were eventually expelled from the country.

Myanmar has been embroiled in chaos since a military coup in February 2021 deposed the democratically-elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Violence has spread across the country since Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s military administration crushed mostly peaceful protests in cities.

Japan is among a number of countries that have criticised the coup and its aftermath, most recently condemning the execution of four anti-coup activists last month.

Myanmar state media on Monday reported that Min Aung Hlaing had ordered a state of emergency in the country to be extended by six months, citing the need to strengthen the “genuine and disciplined multi-party democratic system”.