Tokyo gov't, state ordered to compensate for illegal investigation

A Japanese court on Wednesday ordered the Tokyo metropolitan government and the state to compensate the president of a Yokohama-based company and others for an unlawful investigation into what was alleged was the illegal export of items capable of producing biological weapons.

The Tokyo District Court awarded the compensation to Masaaki Okawara, 74, president of machinery maker Ohkawara Kakohki Co., Junji Shimada, one of its former directors, and the family of former adviser Shizuo Aishima, who died in February 2021 after falling ill during detainment.

The plaintiffs sought 560 million yen ($3.9 million) in damages in the lawsuit filed in September 2021, claiming the items in question -- spray dryers that can atomize liquids into a mist and then turn it into a powder -- were not subject to export restrictions.

The court ruled the arrests and indictments of the three individuals between March and June 2020 were all illegal.

The case took an unusual turn, with a member of Tokyo police's Public Security Bureau testifying during the trial that the allegations leveled against the three were "fabricated."

They had been arrested and indicted on suspicion of illegally exporting spray dryers capable of producing biological agents without authorization, but shortly before their first hearing in July 2021, prosecutors withdrew the indictment of Okawara and Shimada, saying that "doubts have arisen as to whether they are guilty of a crime."

The indictment for Aishima had been rescinded due to his death.

Okawara and Shimada spent 332 days in custody until they were released on bail in February 2021.

© Kyodo News