November 13, 2008 / 9:28 AM / 11 years ago

Japan police crackdown videos a hit online

TOKYO (Reuters) - Video clips of a Japanese police crackdown on a group of “working poor” who tried to get a look at the wealthy prime minister’s luxurious private home in Tokyo have attracted of thousands of viewers on the Internet.

Three men were arrested on suspicion of assembling without a permit and scuffling with police, a spokesman at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police said, when about 40 people gathered last month near Prime Minister Taro Aso’s home in an exclusive area of the capital.

One of the several video clips, with over 96,000 views on the YouTube video-sharing website, showed dozens of uniformed police tackling a man who was accusing the premier of "creating poverty" and urging others to take a look at Aso's house. (here

Another video showed one of the protesters speaking with the police about how to proceed with the group's walk to Aso's house. (here

“I understand that the police took strict and appropriate measures against illicit acts in accordance with the law,” Jun Matsumoto, a deputy chief cabinet secretary, told a news conference.

The organizers have said that they spoke to police about the event in advance.

“It is hard to believe that the working poor, who object to their situation and are trying to do something about it, would get arrested just for walking on the streets,” YouTube showed Karin Amamiya, an author and activist, as telling a news conference after the arrests.

In Japan, there are about 10 million “working poor,” defined as having an annual income of $20,000 or less.

More than a third of employees in Japan are temporary or non-regular workers without job security.

The 68-year-old prime minister was born into a wealthy family of politicians and industrialists, and Aso and his immediate family have declared assets worth about 455 million yen ($4.8 million).

($1=95.62 Yen)

Reporting by Yoko Kubota, Chisa Fujioka, editing by Miral Fahmy

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