The Japanese government's track record on respecting civil liberties and the rule of law is suspect, as I detailed in last week's Counterpoint.

In 2002, the former Defense Agency, which is now a full-fledged ministry, spied on people who filed information disclosure requests, while the police and courts railroaded antiwar protesters on dubious charges of trespassing after they passed out flyers encouraging members of the Self-Defense Forces to oppose deployment in Iraq as war raged there in 2004.

These weren't the only cases. A Buddhist priest was also apprehended while passing out antiwar flyers (imagine that, a peace-loving monk!), and the police kept a tail on one civil servant so they could catch him distributing copies of the Communist Party newspaper — arresting him even though it was on his day off. Don't the cops have anything better to do than harass ordinary citizens exercising their constitutional rights? Is this how they pretend to keep the nation safe from terrorists?