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Fierce foe of U.S. military bases in Okinawa detained for three months

TOKYO — One of the most vocal opponents of US military construction on Okinawa has been in detention for 95 days on relatively minor charges, triggering accusations that the Japanese government is trying to silence him.

Hiroji Yamashiro, a 64-year-old who had led protests against new US Marine Corps facilities in the island prefecture, was arrested Oct. 17 and has been behind bars since.

‘‘I can’t help but think this smells like a political judgment, not a judicial one,’’ Yamashiro wrote from his prison cell in Naha in response to questions from the Washington Post that were passed to him through his attorney.

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In Japan, suspects can be held for 23 days before authorities must either indict or release them.

Yamashiro was arrested on suspicion of cutting a wire fence around a Marine Corps helipad construction site near Takae in northern Okinawa. Three days later, prosecutors added another charge: interfering with public officers’ duties and causing bodily injury. They alleged that Yamashiro grabbed a civil servant and shook him. In late November, prosecutors added a third charge: obstruction.

An Okinawa police representative has denied any political motivation.

Washington Post