Muslim group to petition for burial sites in Japan

NHK has learned that a Muslim group in Japan is planning to submit a petition to the government requesting burial sites for Muslims.

The group based in Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, southwestern Japan, is aiming to remedy a shortage of burial sites for Muslims. Their religion does not allow cremation, which is a widespread practice in Japan.

The group purchased a plot of land in neighboring Hiji Town three years ago and tried to obtain the town's permission to build a cemetery. But the plan has been stalled, partly due to residents' opposition.

The group plans to visit the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in Tokyo on June 17, on behalf of the Muslim population in the Kyushu and Okinawa regions.

The petition will ask the government to establish at least one public burial site in each prefecture, or allocate part of existing public cemeteries to Muslim burials.

The group's leader Khan Muhammad Tahir Abbas, who has acquired a Japanese nationality, noted that the number of foreign residents in Japan was increasing. He said a shortage of cemeteries that meet their cultural and religious needs was a serious problem.