Japan calls on Myanmar to release Japanese journalist arrested in Yangon


Japan’s government said on Monday it is asking Myanmar to release Japanese journalist Yuki Kitazumi who was arrested at his home in Yangon.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters that his government is asking Myanmar authorities to explain the arrest and provide other details while asking for his release as soon as possible.

“We will continue asking the Myanmar side for his early release, while doing our utmost for the protection of the Japanese citizens in that country,” Kato said.

“As far as reasons for his arrest and detention, the Japanese embassy is working to learn those details.”

BBC Burmese quoted a witness as saying Kitazumi was taken into custody by troops on Sunday night. He was asked to raise both hands and was taken away in a car, it said.

Kitazumi has not been charged yet and diplomats are seeking permission to visit him in jail, a spokesman told AFP on Monday, adding that he had been transferred overnight from a police watchhouse to the Insein prison.

Insein is known for holding political prisoners.

Kitazumi runs a media production company, Yangon Media Professionals, and used to be a journalist with the Nikkei business daily, according to his Facebook page and interviews with online media.

He had been detained briefly in late February by police while covering pro-democracy protests in Myanmar, where the military ousted the elected government Feb. 01.

Japan has stepped up its criticism of Myanmar’s deadly crackdown on opposition but has taken a milder approach than the US and some other countries that imposed sanctions against members of the military junta.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group, 737 people have been killed by security forces in Myanmar since the coup while 3,229 remain in detention. (Source: CNA)