Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita said Tuesday he has ordered the removal of surveillance cameras from the shower area of an immigration detention center northeast of Tokyo where shower equipment was repeatedly vandalized earlier this year.

"We had no choice but to set up general-purpose video cameras temporarily to prevent similar incidents from happening and to identify the perpetrator," Yamashita said of the measure that was taken in mid-June at the East Japan Immigration Control Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture. Support groups for detainees had complained that the cameras violated the privacy of those held there.

"The video cameras were placed in positions" that took privacy concerns into consideration, Yamashita told a news conference. "But I thought we need to consider privacy matters at maximum levels and asked my staff to come up with an alternative method for preventing recurrences."