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Police 'will respect religious freedom'

Japan police vow to uphold rights after church invasion row

Japanese police have come under fire for making an arrest in a church  Japanese police have come under fire for making an arrest in a church
  • ucanews.com correspondent, Tokyo
  • Japan
  • July 19, 2012
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On May 27, Pentecost Sunday, Japanese police entered Kaizuka Catholic Church in Kawasaki City, Kanazawa Prefecture without a warrant to investigate and arrest a worshiper there on immigration charges. The incident sparked protests both in Yokohama diocese and at the national level.

In response, the National Police Agency (NPA) has contacted stations across the country through an official notice calling for respect towards religions and for all other human rights. It also demanded that such an incident should never be repeated.

The notice came after a July 2 letter from Osaka Archbishop Jun Ikenaga, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, to the chairman of the National Public Safety Commission (NPSC) and the commissioner general of the NPA insisting measures be taken to prevent such abuses in the future.

In a letter dated July 12, NPA chief superintendent Yasuhiro Shirakawa replied to Archbishop Ikenaga, informing him that he had discussed the matter with the NPSC and, upon consideration, had issued this formal notice to police forces nationwide.

Shirakawa's letter, which is referred to by the title "Concerning the promotion of police activity that appropriately respects basic human rights," summarized its main points as follows.

In the first place, the notice called the invasion of Kaizuka Church an ‘unjustifiable incident’ of trespassing and related the apologies of the Kanagawa Prefectural Police to Yokohama diocese.

It went on to state, "Entry into any establishment on official business must be done in accordance with the law. Further, even after arrival, each and every police action must be carried out with particular respect for religious freedom and all basic human rights."

Finally, the notice called for better leadership and training of law enforcement employees in every regional jurisdiction to ensure that no such incident arises in the future. In particular, those in command of operations in the field are to be made aware of these directives and ensure the orders they issue are in conformance with them.
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