Japanese national detained in Myanmar

A group of activists hold placards of Japanese citizen Toru Kubota, who is detained in Myanmar, during a rally in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo on July 31, 2022.

Yangon, Myanmar | A Japanese man has been detained in Myanmar's commercial capital Yangon, an official at Japan's embassy confirmed Sunday, the latest foreigner ensnared in the junta-ruled nation.

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 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.

A small crowd rallied outside Japan's foreign ministry in Tokyo on Sunday, holding placards of Kubota.

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.

Kitazumi expressed shock over Kubota's detention, and said he hoped he would be released "soon".

"He is a documentary videographer and there is no reason for him to be arrested if he was gathering materials," he said.

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.

© Agence France-Presse

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