Japan to accept torch relay protesters
(dpa) - Japan would accept entry of the Paris-based rights group Reporters Without Borders during the Olympic torch relay to be held in central Japanese city of Nagano Saturday, media reports said Tuesday.
Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said Japan had no intention of refusing the media rights group's entry into the nation.
The group was reportedly expected to arrive in Japan to carry out a "peaceful and democratic" protest against the torch run, the daily Mainichi Shimbun quoted the group's secretary general, Robert Menard, as saying Tuesday.
Menard told the newspaper the group hoped Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda would cancel his attendance at the Olympic opening ceremony.
He criticized Japan for not taking clear a stance on human rights issues even though the nation is very influential as the world's second-largest economy.
Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said at a press conference that he would not object to a protest.
"There is no problem to protest (against the relay) in particular. If the act of protest becomes violent, police would deal with it properly," Komura said.
Japanese Buddhist temple Zenkoji refused to host a torch relay last week in solidarity with the Tibetan Buddhist people. The 18.7-kilometre run would start from a vacant lot near the temple.
Zenkoji Temple plans to conduct a memorial service in the morning of the torch run for Tibetan and Chinese people who died in recent police crackdowns on protesters.
The ceremony is to wish that the Beijing Olympics be conducted peacefully and concept of equality be spread across the world, the temple's abbot said.
Reporters Without Borders on April 7 hung a large protest banner on the Eiffel Tower and three of its members then chained themselves to the monument.
The group was at the heart of pro-Tibetan protests at the torch-lighting ceremony in Greece and has called for an international boycott of the August 8 opening ceremonies in Beijing.