How the Relief Liaison Center (Kyuen Renraku Center) was founded.
From the end of the 1960’s to the beginning of the 1970’s, radical campaigns against the Vietnam War, the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and injustice in universities in Japan were powerfully supported by activists composed mainly of students and youth laborers. To control these campaigns, the Japanese Government mastered the use of riot police in combat gear with shields made of duralumin. Arrested and injured people appeared one after another in these conflicts. For the single year of 1969, prosecuted activists numbered over 1,000 out of 10,000 arrested.
When activists were arrested, supporting relief groups were organized for each person’s access to a lawyer and to request the police to visit them and to send supplies. However, the necessity of a permanent organization was obvious; therefore, individual relief groups were united into the Relief Liaison Centre in March 1969. Even before this time, similar organizations also existed. For example the Centre for Legal Advocacy for the Red-Purged was founded to help the members of the Japan Communist Party which was an illegal organization before World War II and the Black Centre for Legal Advocacy for anarchists. After Imperial Japan was defeated in 1945, the Centre for Legal Advocacy for the Red-Purged changed its name to the Citizen Centre for Legal Advocacy and is still active today.
At the end of the 1950’s and the beginning of the 1960s’, neo-left wing groups criticized traditional left wing groups such as the Japan Communist Party. The Relied Liaison Center was concerned about these campaigns of neo-left wing groups which were self-supported civic movements.
As our activities include supporting falsely charged persons, campaigning against the use of capital punishment and against preventive detention for mentally disordered persons, we provide legal support as a civil organization.
When you are arrested in most cases of arrest, you are detained in a jail=substitute prison in a police station and held for a period of investigation. No one can see you except a lawyer in most political cases. The maximum period of holding is 23 days. The prosecutor decides to prosecute or not.
The investigating policeman will ask which lawyer is going to represent you at the beginning of the investigation. If the arrested person answers “ I request a lawyer from the Relief Liaison Centre.”, the police will call us and we will dispatch a lawyer.
According to the above fact, a lot of false accusations are created by forced admission in an investigation room when only the policeman and arrested person are present.
Nothing concern to the case may be asked during the investigation and forced to stop fighting.
Therefore, the Relief Liaison Centre advises an arrested person to remain completely silent during an investigation. Complete silence means not even giving your name and address, nor to chat with the police, the only thing you should say: “ I request a lawyer from the Relief Liaison Centre.” When no information is given to the police, you, yourself and the colleague will be protected.
Recent Suppression Trends in Japan
It is very rare for many people to be arrested like in the 1960’s. Unfortunately, it reflects the recent decline of activist campaigns in Japan. In the 1990’s, the main form of suppression was to arrest core activists on a minor offense like not residing in the same address as the drivers’ license registration, etc.
After the invasive war in Iraq started in March 2003, the situation of activist campaigns has been gradually changing. When 1,000 people gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy to protest the outbreak of the war in Iraq, four people were arrested. This happened during an anti-war march composed of tens of thousands of people. Also, in February 2004, three activists who handed out anti-war flyers in residential areas of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces were arrested as trespassers in February.
The Japanese government has been reinforcing police forces on the plausible argument of a countermeasure against terrorism. The government has increased the number of police and is also eager to enact security legislation. We persistently oppose these movements and protest against injustice as we continue to provide legal rights for people who are suppressed.