Demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Associate Prof. Masaki Shimoji

15 Dec. 2012

On Sunday morning of 9 December 2012, the Osaka prefectural police arrested and charged Masaki Shimoji, Associate Professor of Economy at Hannan University, for three alleged offences, violation of the ‘railway services act’; forcible obstruction of business; and unlawfull trespass.

We believe arrest of Shimoji is unlawful and he should be released immediately. We fear that this is a crude attempt to intimidate those citizens opposed to the nationwide spread of radioactive materials.

Shimoji was targeted because he was involved in the campaign to oppose city plans to incinerate imported earthquake debris throughout the nation, including Osaka, where he resides, and believes the plans will contaminate areas unaffected by last year’s nuclear accident in Fukishima.

The plans are proposed to commence in February 2013. After receiving and incinerating the earthquake debris from the north of Japan, local governments will then landfill the ashes. The central Japanese government
has pushed the program to ‘share the burden by all’ and has asked local governments throughout the nation to accept debris from earthquake zones.

The alleged offences took place on 17 October 2012, nearly two months before the Shimoji’s arrest. On that day at around 3pm, people including Shimoji, gathered on the footpath on the north-eastern corner of the Osaka railway station. In twos and threes, they then headed towards the city office to lodge their opposition to the city’s plan. They walked through the eastern corridor inside the station, from north to south, which is the apparent cause of the offences.

Besides the flimsy nature of the charges, the fact that Shimoji was arrested almost two months after the alleged offence of ‘walking through the station premises’ took place is very unusual. We can only conclude that this is
nothing but a crude attempt to silence us, suppress civil liberties and curb our democratic rights.

Since the earthquake and subsequent nuclear plant disasters on 11 March 2011, Shimoji and others have tirelessly cared for those 'refugees', most of them mothers with small children, who fled from the eastern parts of Japan, including Fukushima and other devastated areas, to the western parts of the country.

They have also campaigned vigorously to oppose the nationwide spread of radioactive contamination. The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has damaged the health and welfare of numerous people, both physically and psychological. It has destroyed the livelihoods of many. The national government who promoted the nuclear power recklessly for decades must take now responsibility. The manufacturers of the reactors and power utilities who have failed to implement adequate safety measures should be blamed for their negligence.

Yet, while their crimes for causing such devastation are still left unaccounted for, people who are trying to minimise the damage are being handed criminal charges. This should not be allowed. In Osaka alone, five citizens have been arrested, detained and charged because they expressed their opposition to the city plan to spread the radioactive contamination.

We strongly denounce such arbitrary use of the law. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of those unfairly detained and an apology.

 

The Citizens Opposing the Nationwide

Spread of Radioactive Materials

Secretariat  Uiko Hasegawa and Park Seung-Joon

 

civicactivity@mail.goo.ne.jp

Statement of Prof. Masaki Shimoji 

 

(Masaki Shimoji, Asst. Professor of economics at Hannan University, Osaka, was arrested on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 at his home and is currently under detention. His arrest warrant states that he illegally led a protest march through a portion of Osaka station on Oct. 17, 2012,
refused to obey the orders of station personnel, and jeopardized station business. Petitions are being signed for his release.)

What is written in my arrest warrant is untrue. I am totally shocked that the police, who witnessed my actions that are the basis for my arrest, have created completely false statements. Why do the police create lies in order to arrest me? The reason is I am participating in citizens groups protesting the re-start of nuclear power plants and the further spread of radiation (through disaster area debris incineration). In particular, I have criticized the unlawful conduct by police that I have come across through my participation in this movement. I have not done anything wrong.

Japan and the world we live in is an extremely dangerous place. The nuclear disaster of Fukushima is not under control, and should the spent fuel pool in reactor no. 4 collapse, the consequences would be catastrophic for not only Japan but the world as well. Nothing has been done to deal with nuclear fallout, as food and other products continue through the distribution system. Not only that, a campaign claiming “we don’t have enough electricity” is being waged, and use of nuclear energy is still being promoted. This is sheer madness.

In the coming 6 to 12 months, the policies implemented by the government will determine our future. Looking at the faces of my students on a daily basis who are about 20 years old, I think about what kind of world they will live in when in 20 years they reach the same age as me. Each time I do, I regret that those of us of the older generation were unable to prevent the nuclear disaster. The young are not responsible. If anything, I want to work toward leaving an even somewhat better place for them. The disaster has already happened and there is not much time left. But there is hope.

Now, I cannot act but I have not given up. I have been able to deliver this statement despite my detention. And if enough people act and raise their voices, we might be in time. I especially call on other university educators, doctors, scientists, and all those who are considered to be ‘specialists’: Learn from those citizens who appear to be “uneducated or emotional.” Their voices remain unheard and ignored; speak out so their concerns can be heard.
The truth will show itself through a process of critique and dialogue. Stand on the side of those who oppose and act so that the truth will be known, by taking to task the government and those wielding power. You may make errors, and that is all right. Always stand on the side of those with less power and support them. Even if they make mistakes, use your authority to get to the truth when dealing with those in power. It doesn’t matter what your field is; have the courage to speak out.

Finally, I address the issue that I have been most deeply involved; the debris from disaster areas. The city of Osaka forcefully began experimental incineration of such debris at the end of November and continues preparation for the full implementation beginning in February of next year. As I have repeatedly said, the wide-spread incineration throughout Japan of disaster debris will not benefit anyone. Budget funding earmarked for the reconstruction of disaster areas will be funneled off for such incineration, hampering progress on reconstruction. Radiation will be scattered, those living in affected areas will be forced to endure living in contaminated conditions, and the responsibilities of TEPCO will be lightened. We will pay for this with our lives and that of our children and those who are yet born. Such an irresponsible policy should not be allowed. We must stop this. Those of you who have studied and fought together, do not give up and continue to fight. For those of you who were not know about the debris incineration issue, learn more and lend us a hand. This is a fight to save our future.

I do not know when I will be released, but I will return at some point. Even if I’m not visible, I am with you in spirit. As for the others who were also unfairly arrested, I’m sure they feel the same way. I look forward to seeing you again.

December 12, 2012 Masaki Shimoji