TOKYO -- The commission investigating the assassination of Benigno Aquino arrived in Tokyo today for the testimony of Japanese witnesses who may have new information on how the opposition leader was killed.
The five-member commission headed by retired Judge Corazon Agrava arrived at Tokyo International Airport aboard a Philippine Airlines flight for a segment of the investigation that will begin Thursday and be conducted by the Japanese Police Agency.
Officials said the commission hoped to question at least eight Japanese journalists who may be able to shed light on the Aug. 21 assassination at the Manila International Airport.
But at least four of the eight summoned to Japan's National Police Agency will refuse to testify, according to some Japanese media sources.
Aquino was shot to death as he stepped off a jetliner to return from three years of self-imposed exile in the United States.
Some civilian witnesses have testified the government's prime suspect, Rolando Galman, was not in a position to shoot the opposition leader as the government claims, and that Aquino may have been shot by military escorts behind him. Galman was shot to death seconds after the assassination.
Toshi Matsumoto, a photographer who was aboard the China Airlines flight that carried Aquino to Manila, said he has refused to testify before the commission in Manila and would refuse to do so if asked in Tokyo.
Matsumoto said he has conferred with his agent and decided it was against his interests to testify. He refused to elaborate.
In Manila, Aquino's brother, Agapito Aquino, Monday threatened further 'confrontation' with the 18-year regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, including civil disobediance and anti-government marches.
The warning came as U.S. congressional aides were investigating the political climate in the Philippines. Aquino met Monday with U.S. congressional aides investigating whether Congress should approve a $180 million aid package to the Philippines next year.
The commission also wants to interview Matsumi Suzuki, a voice print expert and director of the Japanese Acoustic Laboratories, and a ballistics expert of the Tokyo police identified only as Kunimoto.
Officials hope the audio expert could identify the voice caught on video tape by the Japanese television crewmen. Such words as 'Ako na' (let me do it) and 'Pusila' (shoot him) were reported heard on the tape before a gunshot rang out.
The Tokyo police ballistics expert appeared in a Japanese television documentary on the assassination. He said that based on the downward trajectory of the .357 Magnum bullet in Aquino's head the man who shot Aquino was on a higher plane, indicating the Filipino opposition leader was killed on the staircase.
Special prosecutor Andres Narvasa said the board planned to see two Filipino women passengers aboard Aquino's China Airlines plane who are reported under protective custody of Shintaro Ishihara, a member of the Japanese Diet.