Japanese filmmaker detained in Myanmar’s capital Yangon from protest site: Media

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A Japanese man has been detained by authorities in Myanmar after filming a protest in the country’s biggest city of Yangon, Jiji news agency reported on Sunday, citing Japanese government officials.

The report did not name the man, but said he was aged in his 20s and that the Japanese embassy in Myanmar had called for his
release.

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Some local media reports named the man as documentary filmmaker Toru Kubota and said he was detained in the South Dagon area of Yangon on Saturday along with two others at a
protest against the recent execution of four activists by military authorities.

Reuters could not independently confirm the reports.

A military coup last year sparked rolling protests and a deadly response from the junta, with more than 2,000 people killed and at least 14,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

On Saturday, Japanese and local media said filmmaker Toru Kubota, 26, was detained near an anti-government rally along with two Myanmar citizens.

“I can confirm a Japanese national was detained yesterday in Yangon,” an official at the Japanese embassy told AFP on Sunday, requesting anonymity.

The embassy is “in contact with the authorities and taking measures to secure their release”.

The Japanese official, who did not confirm the identity of the detained individual, said they had no information on whether he was arrested during a protest.

A junta spokesperson was not available for comment.

Several foreigners have been arrested in the military’s crackdown on dissent since the putsch.

Last year Japanese filmmaker Yuki Kitazumi was detained by Myanmar authorities while covering the coup’s aftermath. Under international pressure he was released and returned to Japan in May 2021.

Myanmar’s junta has clamped down on press freedoms, arresting reporters and photographers, as well as revoking broadcasting licences.

As of March this year, 48 journalists remain in custody across the country, according to monitoring group Reporting ASEAN.

Since the military seized power in Myanmar in February last year, nearly 15,000 people have been arrested and 11,820 remain in detention, according to the Assistance Association for political prisoners, an activist group.

Read more: UN Security Council condemns Myanmar prisoner executions

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