• Kyodo

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A 29-year-old police officer who joined the Oita police force in April said Monday that officers have tried to coerce him into leaving because he has a record of juvenile delinquency.

The man sent a written request to the personnel committee of Oita Prefecture, urging the body to protect his rights and ensure that he will not face prejudice as an employee of the prefectural police.

According to the statement, the man was arrested by Oita police when he was 18 for alleged involvement in such crimes as theft and damage to property. A family court decided not to punish him, however, on the belief he would turn himself around.

The man said a police officer who cared for him during this incident inspired him to join the force himself.

He attended college outside the prefecture and after graduation joined the local police force, where he worked for several years. After leaving this job, he returned to Oita and was employed by the Oita Prefectural Police.

In June, several senior officials at the police academy, which the man is now attending, repeatedly pressured him to leave the force due to his past record.

After ignoring their request, the man was stripped of his duties at the police academy and warned that he would never make detective, he said. They also told him that he might be sacked before graduation, he said.

“I do not think I did something wrong,” he said. “It was mentally tough because instructors (at the academy) do not talk to me. I expect (the personnel committee) to make changes so that the same kind of problems will never happen again.”

Takashi Uchimura of the Personnel and Training Bureau of the Oita Prefectural Police said he cannot comment on the man’s complaint because he has not yet seen the relevant document.

But a senior official at the Oita police said: “It is doubtful he will be able to work as a law enforcement officer in an organization where some people know his past.

“He also has to think whether local residents can accept him (as a police officer) now that his past delinquency has been made known.”

Akihiro Otani, a journalist who has covered the police organization extensively, said the alleged acts by the Oita police run counter to the principle of the Juvenile Law as well as the stated objectives of police to correct delinquent youths.

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