Release video to prove Japan was in the right

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 1, 2010)
Release video to prove Japan was in the right
衝突ビデオ開示 正当性示すためにも不可欠だ(9月30日付・読売社説)

The government has indicated it will submit to the Diet video footage of the recent collision between a Chinese trawler and a Japan Coast Guard vessel near the Senkaku Islands.

The footage, taken by a JCG officer aboard the patrol vessel Mizuki, reportedly shows the Chinese vessel sailing parallel to the JCG vessel, then veering toward the Mizuki by turning to port, and colliding with the JCG vessel's starboard side.

This would be conclusive evidence that will show the international community how vicious and dangerous the criminal activities of the trawler were, and how misplaced China's demands for an apology and compensation from Japan are.

The Naha District Public Prosecutors Office is holding the video as material evidence to build a case against the trawler's captain, who was arrested after the collision.

Article 47 of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits investigation materials from being released before a trial. Even if such materials are to be released in exceptional circumstances, they should be made public only when investigative authorities believe it would be in the public interest and appropriate, according to a provisory clause of the code.

Theoretically, a request from the legislative body to release the footage based on a Diet member's right to investigate state affairs would constitute public interest. Yet releasing the material will not be ruled necessary if it is considered to be the result of undue political interference in the judicature.

Submission precedent

There is a precedent in submitting to the Diet material set to be used in a trial. In 1976, a list of "high-ranking government officials suspected of corruption" in connection with the Lockheed bribery scandal was submitted to the Lockheed Select Committee of both Diet chambers after negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties.

If the House of Representatives Budget Committee or a similar body passes a resolution calling for the video to be submitted to the Diet, the government plans to call on judicial and prosecution authorities to hand over the tape as this would be in the public interest.

The Chinese captain has been released and returned home, making it unlikely his case will be brought to trial. Of course, the rights of people involved in this case must be protected and undue influence on the trial must be legally prevented. However, we think submitting the video to the Diet is the right thing to do.

Don't expect about-face

Releasing the footage is unlikely to cause China to make an about-face and immediately concede the skipper and his crew acted illegally or change its hard-line stance toward Japan. On the contrary, China might hit back by claiming the video is fabricated.

But if the malicious actions of the Chinese trawler within Japanese territorial waters are revealed for all to see, we think the international community will realize that Japan has acted lawfully.

In 2001, a North Korean spy ship and JCG patrol vessels exchanged fire in the East China Sea southwest of Kyushu. The spy ship then blew itself up and sank. The JCG made footage of the incident available to the news media only two days later.

The JCG was said to be initially willing to release video of the trawler collision. But after the government discussed the skipper's arrest, the footage was kept under wraps to avoid angering Beijing.

Some observers have suggested this decision weakened Japan's position. To prove to audiences at home and abroad that Japan acted legitimately, the footage must be submitted to the Diet.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 30, 2010)
(2010年9月30日01時31分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-10-01 05:37 | 英字新聞

<< Russia on the p... Depend on China... >>