1st Edition

Japan’s Prisoners of Conscience Protest and Law During the Iraq War

By Lawrence Repeta Copyright 2023
    238 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is a narrative account of the criminal prosecution of three peaceful protesters in Japan during the Iraq War that tells the inside story of their arrests and trial and examines the larger issues raised by the case.

    Based on interviews with defendants, lawyers, and eyewitnesses and other Japanese language sources, the book carries rich descriptions of the individuals at the heart of the story, including the charismatic leader of the "Tachikawa Tent Village" who has been protesting since U.S. military forces were stationed in her hometown in the early postwar era. Authored by an attorney who has researched and written on Japanese legal issues for more than three decades and was the plaintiff in a suit that made constitutional history by opening Japan’s courts to free reporting, this book offers expert insights into the forces that affect the right to freedom of political speech in Japan.

    Illustrating the sharp political conflict that has deeply affected Japan’s defense policy for decades, this book will be of great interest to scholars and students of Comparative Law, Peace Studies, Japanese Society, and Modern Asian History.

    Prologue: The Prime Minister Speaks (December 2003)

    1 “Raise your voices with us!” (1945–2004)

    2 Police Investigate the “True Nature” of Tent Village (February–March 2004)

    3 Another Arrest (March 3, 2004)

    4 Recruiting a Defense Team (February–March 2004)

    5 Japan’s First “Prisoners of Conscience” (March 2004)

    6 Preparing for Trial (March 23–April 25, 2004)

    7 Trial at Hachioji: The First Court Hearing (May 6, 2004)

    8 An Undercover Investigation (July 20, 2004)

    9 Trial at Hachioji: The Government Case (June–July 2004)

    10 Trial at Hachioji: Defense Witnesses (September 2004)

    11 Trial at Hachioji: Final Testimony and Closing Arguments (September–November 2004)

    12 Judgment Day (December 16, 2004)

    13 It’s Not Over (December 2004–Summer 2005)

    14 Court Judgments in 2005 and 2006

    15 Tent Village Arrives at the “Stone Fortress” (2005–2008)

    16 The Supreme Court Decides the Arakawa and Horikoshi Cases (2009–2012)

    Conclusion: Dissent in Wartime


    A Note on Sources





    Lawrence Repeta has served as a lawyer, business executive, and law professor in Japan and the United States. He retired from the Meiji University (Japan) law faculty in 2017. He is best known in Japan as the plaintiff in a suit that opened Japan’s criminal trials to free reporting. He has served on the board of directors of the Japan Civil Liberties Union and Information Access Clearinghouse Japan, non-governmental organizations that advocate for the protection of individual rights and government transparency.

    "Japan’s Prisoners of Conscience narrates the dramatic story of the arrest and prosecution of three Japanese protesters who opposed their government’s dispatch of troops in support of the American war in Iraq in 2004.  Little known outside Japan, and not well remembered within the country, in Repeta’s capable hands the tale of victories, reversals, and limited vindication of the defendants offers a clear-eyed warning of the challenges to free speech faced by Japanese society today."
    Andrew Gordon, Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History, Harvard University, United States

    "This meticulous account of a major civil liberties case provides unparalleled insight into the operation of Japan’s criminal justice system. When that system is put to the test we learn how liberal constitutional promises are undermined by continuing conservative legacies. This book is a must read for all students of Japan’s Constitution."
    Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago, United States

    "This superb book details the abuse of police power to suppress dissent during the Iraq War. The author leads readers into Japan’s courtrooms and delivers rich descriptions of the lawyers and supporters who rallied to defend three antiwar activists jailed and prosecuted after they criticized the Self-Defense Forces deployment to Iraq. Amnesty International dubbed them "Prisoners of Conscience," highlighting how they were targeted for criticizing government policy."
    Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies and Professor of History, Temple University, Japan

    "Japan's Prisoners of Conscience is an important book because it bridges what can often be a significant gap between academic descriptions of Japan’s legal system and its functioning in the real world. Repeta presents a tapestry of stories about trials that have received little or no attention in the West, but are critical to understanding how the courts function in politicized cases. This book is an important addition to the literature on Japanese law and politics."
    Colin P.A. Jones, Professor, Doshisha Law School, Japan