Scores of fully-clad riot police raided a dormitory at one of the nation’s leading universities on Thursday, in an apparently heavy-handed response to a left-wing movement that may involve students.
Ranks of helmeted officers carrying shields and wearing protective clothing converged on the dormitory at the prestigious Kyoto University, backed up by plain-clothed officers.
The operation was being carried out by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police in connection with the arrest earlier this month of three leftist activists, including at least one Kyoto University student.
The three were arrested on suspicion of obstructing public officials and were accused of using violence against riot police on the sidelines of a labor rally in Tokyo on Nov. 2.
Thursday’s raid showed no evidence of any violence. Riot police were reportedly brought in to “prevent confusion.”
Student radicalism in Japan reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, when violent activists demonstrated against Japan’s military alliance with the United States, the Vietnam War, and the construction of Narita international airport outside of Tokyo.
But the movement gradually receded as Japan grew wealthier. The few remaining activists are very much a fringe force. But the government’s unpopular push to restart nuclear reactors and expand the role of the military has provided the activists with renewed impetus.
Japanese police regularly turn out in force for protests, even those involving a small number of often-elderly participants.