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Japanese Court Rules Blanket Surveillance Of Muslims Is ‘Necessary’ To Stop Terrorism

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Muslims in Japan lost a lawsuit over the government’s surveillance of them in May, with the court saying it’s a “necessary” counter-terrorism tactic.

Japanese police have monitored places of worship, halal restaurants and Muslim organizations for years in what they label a counter-terrorism measure. A 2010 leak of 114 Japanese police files quickly spread across the world with 10,000 downloads in 20 countries. The files contained personal information of 72,000 Muslims in several countries, showing just how widespread the surveillance is.

A group of 17 Muslims living in Japan sued the government for infringing on their constitutional rights. The Muslims eventually received close to $900,000 in compensation, but the country’s Supreme Court still finds the profiling and surveillance tactics “necessary and inevitable” to prevent terrorism.

“We were told we don’t have a constitutional case,” said Junko Hayashi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, according to Al Jazeera. “We’re still trying to figure out, how is it not constitutional?”

The court case didn’t make much noise in Japan — the debate instead focused on how the leak will hurt counter-terrorism efforts in the future.

About 70,000 Muslims live in Japan. The vast majority, 90 percent, are foreigners.

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