For wide distribution: Important Statement from a Colleague in Japan
As many of you know, Professor Masaki Shimoji, a professor of economics at Hannan University, was arrested by Osaka prefectural police on December 9, 2012, held for twenty days, and released without charge. One can be arrested and held without charge for up to 23 days in Japan. The Hannan University administration was informed that police intended to arrest Professor Shimoji, and they provided police with access to Professor Shimoji’s office and cooperated with their investigation into Professor Shimoji’s participation in a small demonstration that took place in a train station in Osaka several months earlier, on October 17th. Professor Shimoji and others were protesting the distribution and incineration of radioactive rubble from Fukushima.
This article provides further background information: http://www.jfissures.org/2013/01/20/osaka-pushes-incendiary-tsunami-debris-plan/.
Professor Koji Shima, who teaches in the Faculty of Business at Hannan University, has been one of the very few members of the Hannan community to show solidarity with Professor Shimoji. Professor Shima, whose areas of research specialization are the Social History of Health and Economics, convened and organized the “Group in Support of Professor Shimoji. Professor Shima presented the following statement to that group on January 7, 2013. Please share this statement widely.
To the members of the “Group in Support of Professor Shimoji”
2013 has just begun.
We founded the “Group in Support of Professor Shimoji” immediately after his unjust arrest on December 9th, 2012 with the aims of having him released from custody and to ensure that the university would not take any disciplinary actions against him. After twenty days of worry and uncertainty, we were pleased to hear that he would be released without charges, as he rightfully should have been. However, serious issues that were brought to light by this incident still remain, and in order to work towards their solution, I believe that it will be necessary to face these struggles by creating an organization with a different name and of a different nature. Since we have achieved the original goals that we set out for the Group in Support of Professor Shimoji, I would like to announce the dissolution of the Group.
Looking back in detail at what happened on October 17th, 2012, I was shocked that in Japan, a country with a constitutional government, a person could be arrested like this for an action that is constitutionally protected. I can neither forget nor forgive the insult that Professor Shimoji and his family suffered as a result of his unjust arrest and lengthy detention. For the authorities who spent two months planning and preparing for his arrest, the fact that he will not be prosecuted means defeat. They were unable to find any reason for prosecution that would stand up in court, and were further unable to “discover” any other evidence from the materials that they confiscated that could be used as an excuse to arrest him again or extend his period of detention. This clearly demonstrates the true facts of this “criminal incident”.
The primary factor in bringing about this victory was of course Professor Shimoji’s own struggle. However, the spread of the movement in support of Professor Shimoji, such as the declaration of protest by constitutional scholars, also contributed a great deal to this victory. I also have no doubt that our “Group in Support of Professor Shimoji”, in its own small way, formed one part of this wider social movement. However, when I ask myself whether Hannan University responded in an appropriate way to this “incident”, in which a professor was treated like a heinous anti-social criminal and taken away from his own home in handcuffs in a manner which, as has been consistently pointed out by legal scholars, has not happened since the period of disorder and chaos just following World War II, unfortunately the answer is “no”. The students from Professor Shimoji’s seminars and lectures did not organize any petitions or statements, nor make any appeals to the university authorities. Furthermore, one would think that certain questions would naturally arise among university scholars, at the very least regarding the reasons behind his arrest or the fact that he should have been immediately released. Yet not a single declaration in support of Professor Shimoji was released from any group of faculty including from his own department, nor the department head, nor from the person in the highest position of responsibility for education and learning at the university, the president.
But that’s not all. On December 19th, it was brought to light that the university had been informed by the police in advance that Professor Shimoji would be arrested. University president Tatsumi and vice president Kanzawa told us on December 19th that members of Section 3 of the Public Safety Division of the Osaka Police had come to the university on December 6th and informed them that they would be arresting Professor Shimoji and conducting a search of his office. It is not easy to surmise the real motives as to why the Public Safety Division would go against common sense and inform the university in advance, as though testing out how the university would respond. However, the administration showed no question or hesitation in dealing with the police. On the contrary, the president, who interpreted this visit as a kindly gesture intended to avoid causing any problems for the university, carried on as though nothing had happened, except for establishing a “crisis management office” that evening. And in spite of the fact that various meetings were held for planning and management and among department heads throughout the following week, in which the details of what had happened the previous week were announced openly, not a single question, objection, or protest was raised with regards to the administration’s measures (or perhaps their lack of measures). With all of this in mind, it is clear that nobody, from the president to the vice president, to the department head and all other management, considered the fact that they might be seriously compromising the university’s autonomy in allowing the police’s unjust arrest of a professor and search of his office.
Furthermore, as a professor at the same university, I am ashamed at their complete lack of sympathy or imagination as people living similar lives to Professor Shimoji. Their colleague, with whom they spent their days together teaching and conducting research, was taken by surprise and arrested for an act that is protected by the constitution, had his freedom taken away, and had police come tromping disrespectfully through his home and office. He has been humiliated in a way that cannot be undone. If these people had had even an ounce of imagination, they would feel some sympathy for Professor Shimoji’s pain and distress, as well as for the sadness and bewilderment of his family, having had someone they love suddenly taken from them. Then, there could have been any number of other possible scenarios for what happened after the morning of December 9th. When I think of these other possibilities, I shiver at their cruelty.
I suppose the root rot plaguing this university has probably been deeply and quietly spreading for years. I stepped away from administrative service a while back simply to get back to the work I am supposed to do, namely educating my students, but I deeply regret my negligence and irresponsibility in not having fought against the prevailing current here.
However, the gap between myself and the administration has grown extremely wide, and I feel that the gap cannot be bridged. The twenty days since December 9th have provided a valuable experience in which I learned how difficult it is to go against the grain and to fight.
Here, as we bring the “Group in Support of Professor Shimoji” to a close, I have shared some of my feelings on the matter. I would like to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to all of you for your support.
January 7, 2013
Professor Shima will be quitting his job at Hannan University when the academic year ends in March of 2013, two years before reaching the age of retirement. The following message currently appears on his faculty website.
“It seems as though the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Reactor brought on by the earthquake of March 11, 2011 is gradually fading from the memory of people in Kansai. Is this the best we can do even as the danger of radiation spreads across all of Japan with each moment that passes? And even when there are fourteen aging and decrepit reactors (a third of the total number of reactors in Japan) in Fukui Prefecture, which is only about 150 kilometers away from Osaka? I want to do whatever I can, however humble my abilities, to break us out of the snare of the nuclear safety myth and reclaim this country’s security.”
For those who know Japanese, Professor Shima also appears in the following press conference video beginning at 27:58:
Please share this message widely, such as via your mailing lists, Facebook, etc.
Adrienne Carey Hurley
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of East Asian Studies