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Reversing a lower court ruling, the Tokyo High Court has found a Buddhist monk who distributed political fliers at a Tokyo condominium complex guilty of trespassing. Although the ruling only fined him ¥50,000, it carries the danger of actively encouraging police and prosecutors to charge citizens who distribute political leaflets with trespassing and other violations. It will also intimidate people engaged in various civic and political activities.

On Dec. 23, 2004, Mr. Yosei Arakawa, 60, dropped political fliers of the Japan Communist Party into door mailboxes of a building in Katsushika Ward. When a resident got angry, Mr. Arakawa offered not to drop fliers into the resident’s mailbox in the future. But the resident called police anyway. The monk was arrested and detained for 23 days.

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