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Philippines Deports 2 Japan Home Invasion Suspects; 2 More to Go

The two people deported on February 7 are among those suspected of remotely orchestrating a string of home invasions in Japan from their detention facility in Manila.

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Home invasion
Two suspects deported on February 7 were handed over to the Japanese authorities. (© Philippine Department of Justice via Kyodo)

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine authorities have deported two of the four Japanese men suspected of remotely operating a string of home invasion and robbery cases in Japan, Philippine Justice Minister Jesus Crispin Remulla personally led the Philippine deportation team on Tuesday, February 7. Officials have said they expect the local courts will dismiss unrelated charges against other two suspects, clearing the way for their deportation, later this week, and possibly as early as Wednesday February 8.

Shortly after 8:30 AM JST on Tuesday morning February 7, with heavy security around the Philippine detention facility in Manila where the two have been held, Toshiya Fujita (38) and Kiyoto Imamura (38) were processed for deportation. Manila then escorted the two to Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 , where, upon boarding a JAL plane waiting on the tarmac, they were officially turned over to Japanese officials. Responding to questions as he left the airport, Justice Minister Remulla reported that the plane had departed at 9:40 AM for Tokyo.

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Suspect Imamura (right) is being deported onto a plane at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on February 7. (© Kyodo)

Meanwhile, there are two other suspects. Yuki Watanabe (38) and Tomonobu Kojima (nee Saito, 45) are facing local charges in Philippine court unrelated to the home invasions and robberies in Japan. Both men are trying to avoid deportation and have hired Filipino lawyers who filed what are believed to be trumped up cases against them in the local courts. 

On Monday February 6, Philippine Justice Ministry officials asked the local Philippine court to dismiss the charges filed against the two in order to enable their deportation. After the hearing the court took the case under advisement but refrained from commenting on whether it would clear the way for deportation of the suspects.

Home Invasion
Japanese suspect Yuki Watanabe AKA "Luffy" in Manila (© Sankei).

In the Background of the Local Cases

Earlier on January 31, Remulla said "logic and human experience" will help government prosecutors prove that the supposed cases against these suspects are nothing but part of a modus operandi. 

He cited the case of one Japanese suspect whose Filipina girlfriend supposedly filed a case against him for beating her up. But this same girlfriend visits him in detention regularly and they kiss and are cozy with each other.

Likewise, he said, the other Japanese suspect is facing the same case filed by a girlfriend. One could see the pattern that lawyers are following, the justice secretary said. 

Upon learning that Japanese authorities were coordinating with the Philippine government for the deportation, two of the four suspects had fresh cases filed against themselves in Mindanao, in the far south of the Philippines.

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Remulla said the government has moved for the dismissal of these concocted cases. 

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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr (© Aaron Favila/Pool via REUTERS)

President Marcos State Visit to Japan Not a Deadline

The justice secretary also said, in response to a Japanese journalist's question, that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s state visit to Japan, which begins Wednesday, February 8, is not a deadline of any sort to send back the suspects to Tokyo.

"We will deport who we can deport immediately," Remulla said on January 31. 

As for the two who are facing cases in local courts, Remulla said, "My commitment to everybody is to have them deported in a few weeks." 

Some Suspects Sought by Japan Since 2019

Remulla also revealed that authorities confiscated several communication gadgets from the suspects while they were in detention here. One of them, for example, had six iPhones in his possession. 

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Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla (from his Facebook page)

Remulla told JAPAN Forward before his press briefing on Tuesday, January 31, that Japanese embassy officials showed him videos that the suspects took of themselves while detained — apparently allowed by guards to have access to gadgets.

He said immigration employees are being investigated regarding this. 

Japanese authorities have been requesting the Philippines to deport the suspects since 2019, it was learned. That is before the pandemic and during the administration of then-President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Remulla, who is an appointee of President Marcos, said the request was renewed by the embassy under the new Philippine administration. 

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Author: JAPAN Forward

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