Riot police raid Japan university

TOKYO - Scores of fully-clad riot police raided a dormitory at a leading Japanese university Thursday, reports said, in an apparently heavy-handed response to a left-wing movement that may involve students.

Television footage showed ranks of helmeted officers carrying shields and wearing protective clothing converging on the dormitory at the prestigious Kyoto University, backed up by plain-clothed officers.

The operation was being carried out by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, Jiji Press news agency and the private Nippon Television network said, in connection with the arrest earlier this month of three leftist activists, including at least one Kyoto University student.

The three were arrested on suspicion of obstructing public officials and accused of using violence against riot police officers on the sidelines of a labour rally in Tokyo held in November 2, they said.

Footage of Thursday's raid showed no evidence of any violence, with Jiji Press reporting riot police were brought in to "prevent confusion".

Tokyo police said they were not able immediately to confirm the raid.

Student radicalism in Japan reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, when violent activists demonstrated against Japan's military alliance with the United States, the Vietnam War, and the construction of Narita international airport outside of Tokyo.

But the movement gradually receded as Japan grew wealthier. The few remaining activists are very much a fringe force, but the government's unpopular push to restart nuclear reactors and expand the role of the military has provided the activists with renewed impetus.

Japanese police regularly turn out in force for protests, even those involving a small number of often-elderly participants.

Kyoto University in the Japanese capital is one of the nation's best schools.