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Friday, 18th April 2008
In General Japan News,

Temple in Nagano City refuses Olympic flame

Eight days before the controversial Beijing-bound Olympic torch hits Japanese shores, a Bhuddist temple has withdrawn as the starting point for the relay.

Safety concerns and protestations about the treatment of Bhuddists in Tibet have been cited as the reason Zenkoji Temple's withdrawal, leaving organisers searching for a site from which to launch the next leg of the Olympic flame's troubled journey.

Secretary general of the municipal Olympic planning committee Kunihiko Shinohara told Japan Today: "We are extremely shocked.

"We will respect the decision as a general resolve of Zenkoji - we will have to change the course."

Officials from the temple revealed they had received over 1,000 letters and 100 calls of protest from across Japan regarding its participation in the event.

Zenkoji Temple is one of Japan's most visited sites, founded 1,400 years ago and famous for its Buddhist statue which goes on display once every seven years.

The Japanese leg of the Olympic torch relay is due to commence in the Nagano Prefecture on April 26th.