The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Friday granted nonprofit status to the Japanese branch of China’s outlawed Falun Gong group, metro government officials said.

The metro government had rejected requests for tax-free status in 1999 and 2001 from Japan Falun Dafa, based in Adachi Ward, on the grounds that the group was conducting religious activities.

The organization has since changed its work programs and mandate, so the metro government no longer considers the group a religious organization, according to the officials.

Japan Falun Dafa says it has about 400 Japanese and Chinese members in Japan.

It hosts qigong breathing technique classes at a number of locations across the country.

Groups whose aims are religious or political cannot be granted NPO status.

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