Japan urges Myanmar to release detained journo


The government in Tokyo on Monday called on Myanmar to release a freelance Japanese journalist detained by security forces in Yangon.

Speaking at a news conference here, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said Tokyo was asking for the early release of the journalist, who was arrested at home on Sunday evening in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, reports dpa news agency.

Kato did not identify the journalist, but Japanese media named him as Yuki Kitazumi, a former reporter for the Nikkei Business Daily, who now lives in Yangon.

Kitazumi has been under investigation for allegedly disseminating “fake news”, Kyodo News reported, citing the Japanese Embassy in Myanmar.

He has been transferred to Insein prison in the city, where many political detainees are incarcerated, according to Kyodo.

In late February, the journalist was also briefly detained by security forces while covering an anti-coup rally, the report said.

On Saturday, the junta granted amnesty to more than 23,000 prisoners as Myanmar began marking its traditional New Year festival, state-run broadcaster MRTV reported, though it was unclear whether anti-coup protesters were among those set free.

The February coup has prompted widespread protests, to which soldiers have responded with a violent crackdown on the population.

Nearly 2,850 have been arrested, and at least 598 have been killed, including 48 children, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a non-profit organization.