TOKYO: Japanese political dissenters chalked up a small victory today when a court struck down a city's move to ban a "mannequin flash mob" anti-government protest.
The Yokohama District Court nullified an injunction issued by Ebina city, south of Tokyo, against a local politician who took part in the silent demonstration against the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The group of about 10 people staged the event -- in which they gathered and stood still like mannequins -- in a public space in front of a local train station in February last year without obtaining a permit.
They held placards with messages such as "We do not tolerate Abe politics."
The court row began after the city ordered a member of its municipal assembly who had taken part not to do so again.
The city claimed she violated a local ordinance which requires prior approval for public events and demonstrations in front of the station.
The demonstrators countered that the action violated their right to free speech.
Masamichi Okubo, the presiding judge, nullified the city's order, according to a court spokeswoman. She did not elaborate.
Okubo said the protest did not disrupt foot traffic in the area and did not meet the requirements for obtaining prior approval, local media reported.
Abe, while enjoying high public approval ratings, has been the target of protests over his hawkish and conservative social and defence policies. These have unnerved many in a nation known for staunch pacifism.