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Myanmar court jails Japanese filmmaker for 10 years

The jail terms will be served concurrently. 



Myanmar court jails Japanese filmmaker for 10 years
GNN Media: Representational Photo

A court in Myanmar has jailed a Japanese documentary filmmaker for 10 years for encouraging dissent against the military and violating communications laws. 

The filmmaker identified as Toru Kubota was arrested in July along with two Myanmar citizens after taking photos and video at an anti-coup protest.

At the time, it was reported he faced charges of breaking an immigration law and encouraging dissent against the ruling military. He was later freed with the junta saying his release was in recognition of the two countries' close ties.  

The 26-year-old was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison for “incitement” and seven years for violating a law on telecommunications, a Japanese foreign ministry official said on Thursday, citing the filmmaker’s lawyer.  

The jail terms will be served concurrently. 

A court hearing on an immigration charge is scheduled for October 12, the official said.

“We have been asking Myanmar authorities for Mr Kubota's early release, and we intend to keep on doing so,” he said.

Myanmar has been trapped in a spiral of violence since the military overthrew an elected government last year. The junta has arrested thousands including politicians, bureaucrats, students, journalists, and foreigners as it attempts to smother dissent. 

According to details, Kubota has previously made documentaries on Myanmar’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority and “refugees and ethnic issues in Myanmar”.

He is the fifth foreign journalist to be detained in Myanmar, after Americans Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan, all of whom were eventually freed and deported.