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Japanese filmmaker detained in Myanmar’s capital Yangon

Members of the Myanmar security forces stand guard on a street in Yangon

A Japanese man has been detained in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon, an official at Japan’s embassy confirmed on Sunday, the latest foreigner ensnared in the junta-ruled nation.

A military coup last year sparked rolling protests and a deadly response from the junta, with more than 2,000 people killed and at least 14,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

On Saturday, Japanese and local media said filmmaker Toru Kubota, 26, was detained near an anti-government rally along with two Myanmar citizens.

“I can confirm a Japanese national was detained yesterday in Yangon,” an official at the Japanese embassy told AFP Sunday, requesting anonymity.

The embassy is “in contact with the authorities and taking measures to secure their release”.

The Japanese official, who did not confirm the identity of the detained individual, said they had no information on whether he was arrested during a protest.

A junta spokesperson was not available for comment.

Several foreigners have been arrested in the military’s crackdown on dissent since the putsch.

Last year Japanese filmmaker Yuki Kitazumi was detained by Myanmar authorities while covering the coup’s aftermath. Under international pressure he was released and returned to Japan in May 2021.

Myanmar’s junta has clamped down on press freedoms, arresting reporters and photographers, as well as revoking broadcasting licences.

As of March this year, 48 journalists remain in custody across the country, according to monitoring group Reporting ASEAN.

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