The Letter of Request on the Investigation and Arrest by the Police on the Grounds of Kaizuka Church


June 21, 2012 Honorable Jin Matsubara Chairman National Public Safety Commission Honorable Yutaka Katagiri Dir […]

June 21, 2012

Honorable Jin Matsubara
National Public Safety Commission

Honorable Yutaka Katagiri
National Police Agency


  1. The Purpose of the Request
  2. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan is an organization established under the jurisdiction of the Roman Curia, and embraces all parishes and religious institutes in Japan. The Conference aims at facilitating communication and partnership among them and promoting missionary and religious activities.
    On Sunday, May 27, 2012, at around 12:30 PM, six officers from the Kawasaki Port Police entered the grounds of Kaizuka Catholic Church of the Yokohama Catholic Diocese without warrant and carried out police activities, although the pastor of this parish, Fr. Takashi Motoyanagi refused them entry. Such act is against Article 35, which stipulates the inviolability of one’s home, and Article 20, which guarantees freedom of religion, of the Japanese Constitution.
    Therefore, Bishop Masahiro Umemura, Ordinary Bishop of the Diocese of Yokohama, and Fr. Takashi Motoyanagi, Pastor of Kaizuka Catholic Church went to the Kawasaki Port Police Station on June 5, 2012 to firmly protest against the above act by the police officers of the Kawasaki Port Police and demand that the recurrence of such an act be prevented.
    Responding to this, we received on June 12 a plainly written reply from Iwao Motoyama, Chief of the Kawasaki Port Police, in which he admitted that the entry of the church grounds was inappropriate and he offered an apology.
    However, we demand that the following points be fully and commonly known among the police and be thoroughly taught to all officers in order not to repeat such incidents within the jurisdiction of the police of all prefectures in Japan, not to mention the Kawasaki Port Police.

    1. Freedom of religion of religious corporations must be respected, and their religious activities must not be interrupted.
    2. Fundamental human rights must not by infringed by entering church grounds illegally to conduct investigations such as questioning.
    3. Questioning near the grounds of a church of those who are on the way to churches must not be conducted.

  3. The Reasons for the Request
    1. A large number of Catholics as well as non-Catholics, no matter which nationalities they have, come to churches to pray or conduct worship, and the Church carries out pastoral activities to offer spiritual care for them. It is widely and popularly known that the Mass is celebrated every Sunday in all the churches in the world. The Mass is an extremely holy and important religious rite for Catholics. Among those who come to churches, some people repent their sin and implore God for forgiveness. The Catholic Church offers forgiveness under the name of Christ to those who are converted by the movement of the Holy Spirit, and determines penance for their sin. This is the sacrament of penance, one of the important activities of the Catholic Church. We also carry out various other religious activities such as spiritual direction.
    2. Catholics as well as non-Catholics ought to gather in solemnity and harmony for a period of time before this religious rite. If the police as the state authority enter the grounds of a church during this period and conduct investigations and other police activities without warrant, despite the administrator’s refusal, it surely causes terror, tension, humiliation, anger and grief among a large number of Catholics and others, so that the atmosphere becomes inappropriate for performing a holy religious rite. Therefore, such police officers’ act cannot escape criticism that it is an obstruction to religious activities by the state authority.
    3. The Catholic Church seeks to become a place where all burdened persons, including those who have committed crimes, can visit with ease. If a person is inspected by the police in or near a church, the faithful can no longer visit churches with ease, so that religious activities of the Church are seriously hindered. Without respect for the pastor’s religious position and his duty of confidentiality, the police officers cornered him by forcibly asking if he was trying to shelter the suspect, and exhorted him to urge the suspect to leave the premises. Such attitudes deny the pastor’s mandate and blaspheme the Catholic Church’s activities including the Sacrament of Penance.
    4. The Constitution of Japan guarantees freedom of religious activities including religious rites, missionary activities, formation of the faithful as part of freedom of religion. According to the Religious Juridical Persons Act, when the State and public entities exercise their authority under the laws over religious corporations, they must respect the nature and custom of religious corporations and pay special attention not to infringe freedom of religion.
    5. The above-mentioned act by the police officers of the Kawasaki Port Police is truly regrettable conduct, against the Constitution of Japan and what must be respected and paid special attention to under the Religious Juridical Persons Act. Moreover, the fact that the officers at the church called their chief by a cell-phone and followed his instructions implies that it cannot be regarded merely as thoughtless behavior by the officers on the scene. This is clearly an obstruction of religious activities on the part of the Kawasaki Port Police.

    We firmly protest once again the above-mentioned conduct of the Kawasaki Port Police. This is not an issue only within the jurisdiction of the Kawasaki Port Police but at the national level. Reflecting a consensus of the Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, I, as its president, demand that you take necessary steps within your jurisdiction to ensure that the police make every effort deliberately to protect fundamental human rights as the Constitution stipulates, to respect freedom of religion of religious corporations, and not to disturb the religious activities of the Church even near churches.

Archbishop Jun IKENAGA, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
All members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan