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Japan demands release of Japanese journalist held in Myanmar

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He did not identify the detainee, but Japanese media identified him as Yuki Kitazumi, a former reporter for the Nikkei business newspaper currently based in Yangon as a freelance journalist.

We will continue to ask the Myanmar side for his early release as we do our best to protect Japanese citizens in that country, Kato said.

Japans NHK public television quoted witnesses as saying they saw Kitazumi being arrested and taken from his home.

Kitazumi was briefly detained by police in late February as he covered pro-democracy protests in Myanmar, where the military ousted the government elected on February 1st.

Japan has stepped up its criticism of Myanmar’s deadly crackdown on the opposition but has taken a more lenient approach than the United States and several other countries that imposed sanctions on members of the military junta.

On Saturday, the junta released more than 23,000 prisoners to mark the traditional New Year celebration. At least three had been political prisoners, but it was not immediately clear if any activists detained during the coup had been released.

According to the Association for Aid to Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests, government forces have killed at least 728 protesters and bystanders since taking power. The group says 3,141 people, including ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, are in custody.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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