- G8, first final sentence
- Greece: Heavy sentences for demonstrators against EU summit 2003
- Anarchist Black Cross Osaka: We denounce the arrest of our comrade, Tabi Rounin!
- The Feminist and Queer Unit against the G8
- Big Brother Comes to Kobe
- Hokkaido Police G8 anti-terrorism measures
G8, first final sentence
The Republic – G8, first final sentence Genoa, June 7, 2008
Translated from La Reppublica
She’s always been the first one, Valerie. The first to enter into the Red Zone. The first to be arrested by the police during those days of July. And the first to wind up in the hell of Bolzaneto. As of yesterday, she is now the first to have completed the third – and definitive – court of appeal for a legal hypothesis of a crime linked to the G8. The Court of Appeal has decided, and the conviction and sentence remanded echo the paradox. Because Valerie Vie must spend five months in prison for that half-step forward - toward liberty, she says – after one of the infamous walls had alread y opened.
Meanwhile the perpetrators of the harassment and violence of Bolzaneto will always be able, in case of conviction, to rely on the discretion of the courts. Just as many of the super-police involved in the bloody blitz on the Diaz School , where 93 innocent no-global demonstrators were first massacred by beatings and then arrested using false evidence. The sixth section of the Supreme Court has decided on the inadmissibility of any recourse against the precedent of their appealed sentence. The Court confirmed the conviction – the penalty was naturally suspend ed – and in addition, the court costs (300 Euros) are being requested instead of any fines.
A mockery, for those who seven years ago came to peacefully demonstrate, and instead underwent three days and two nights in a “temporary detention center,” of harassment and threats. It was the afternoon of July 20, 2001. Valerie was with the demonstrators from the ATTAC movement, in Dante plaza. With her hands gripping the grille, pushing and shouting against the “Great Eight” for “another word,” a better world. “Then suddenly the fence swung forward,” she recounts, “and I took a step forward. One step. With hands raised, in a sign of peace. ‘Behold,’ I said to myself, ‘Now I will speak with some representative of the government. Now we can speak our piece.’” But no. “They tie d my hands behind my back and rammed me into a strange police car. Without seats, with the windows closed.” One hour later, she entered into the Bolzaneto barracks. And when a man pulled her out of the car, she grasped everything. “The violence with which he had grabbed me. The brutality, which in that moment appeared unnecessary to me. It was a moment, and behind my restlessness came my growing awareness. It was inevitable that something bad would happen. And I was up to my neck in it.” Valerie Vie, who in Italy is represented by the lawyer Antonio Lerici, is a journalist. She lives not far from Avignon . She became the protagonist of a documentary film by Pierre Carles, the French Michael Moore . Who in these years has followed her with a videocamera, and will continue to do so until the end of her civil trial for Bolzaneto. Carles wishes to denounce the madness of those “barracks” which have scandalized Europe . “I fell in the courtyard of the barracks. The sun was beating down – what a day. There was an unreal silence. Strange. Around me I saw to many men, in uniform and in plainclothes. They did not speak. They fixed me in their stares. They hated me.” They beat her, insulted her, threatened her: “Are these photos of your children? You will never see them again.” Humiliated, derided. “The screams that rose with the passing of the hours, along with the tears. The blood.” Seven years later, she must still attend the first judgment of her torturers. “But it does not matter to me whether or not they go to jail. I am only interested in speaking of what has happened. Remembering, recording. Because all of this must never happen again.” In the meantime, they have condemned and sentenced her. For one step toward .
Greece: Heavy sentences for demonstrators against EU summit 2003
On May 28 the judge sentenced seven demonstrators who had been arrested during the protests against the EU summit in Thessalonica, Greece in 2003
That summit was the last one to be held in the country presiding the EU at that moment. Because of continuing protests, the EU decided to hold the meeting fixed in Brussels.
But in Thessalonica there were massive protests and there were fierce battles between police and demonstrators (see pictures here: http://athens.indymedia.org/front.php3?lang=el&article_id=122418).
Many people were arrested, and some were kept prisoner for a long time, even up to 5 months on the basis of severe accusations such as the possession of ‘explosives’. At some of the confrontations with the police molotov cocktails were flying around, hence the accusation.
Some of the arrested went into a long hunger strike and were released awaiting the court case. Also it became clear that the police (just like with the protests against the G8 in Genoa in 2001) had been manipulating evidence (see links in this message, Dutch: http://www.globalinfo.nl/content/view/275/30/). See this video- footage for instance: http://www.nodo50.org/Salonica-2003-Video-que- demuestra.html
The court case against the 7 started on May 7 and on the 28th the sentences were declared. These are very dramatic: Sulaiman Dakduk (Kastro) was sentenced to 7 years in prison, as was Michalis Traikapis Simon Chapman was sentenced to 8 years and six months. All for amongst others the possession and/or use of ‘explosives’. Fernando Perez was sentenced to 5 years and 6 months. Three other persecuted persons (Spiros Tsitsas, Dimitris Fliouras and Epaminontas Vasilias) were acquitted. The four persons who were sentenced will stay free for the time awaiting their appeal.
The court case did not get much coverage in activist media. A Spanish coverage of the court case can be found here: http://diariodevurgos.com/dvwps/sentencia-para-los-acusados-en-el- proceso-salonica.php#more-1546
The original in Dutch: http://www.globalinfo.nl/content/view/1573/1
Anarchist Black Cross Osaka: We denounce the arrest of our comrade, Tabi Rounin! Release him now!
On the morning of June 4th, 2008, comrade Tabi Rounin, a squatter liberation activist, was arrested on the charge of “Illegal Address Registration” (in other words, living somewhere he is not registered to live at). His house was searched and more than 14 items were taken including his computer, his phone, resume and flyers. Clearly searching someone’s house simply because their address is still registered at their parents’ house goes beyond simple police work.
This is pre-emptive repression with one eye towards the economic summit being held on June 14th and 15th. He is currently being held in Koriyama police station in Nara prefecture and in 5 days will be put in front of the judge. There are hundreds of people every year who have their IDs registered to their family’s residence. To be arrested on ‘Illegal Address Registration’ is unheard of beyond political repression.
Tabi Rounin had stopped his activity within Osaka city, where the high class apartment buildings of the rich stretch on for miles, and had been active around the working class cities and suburbs around Osaka and Kawachi, connecting to squatters with no organized political presence or assistance, connecting to foreigners working for low wages in factories around his area. He is a working class revolutionary from the roots who fought an isolated battle. There are many anarchists overseas who have found sympathy with his selfless style of activity.
We fiercely protest this repression against the movement that we have helped build! Police, release Tabi Rounin immediately!
June 6th, Anarchist Black Cross Osaka
We are requesting contributions for Tabi Rounin’s early parole. Please send contributions to the address below. We also would appreciate support packages.
Osaka city, Kita-ku Nakazakichou 3-3-1-401
Jiyuu Roudousha Rengou Kizuke
Anarchist Black Cross
The Feminist and Queer Unit against the G8
The Feminist and Queer Unit has been formed!
* So, what is this G8 Summit?
The Japanese Foreign Ministry explains, “[the G8 Summit is] where world leaders come together to freely and privately exchange ideas around one table in order to reach consensus-based decisions on global issues – particularly those with regard to economic and social conditions – and effect change in a top-down manner.”
The G8’s origins lie in the oil crisis and global recession of the 1970s. It was formed by leaders of prominent developed nations as a forum where, amidst their insecurity, they could privately brainstorm on how to best protect their global interests and standing.
* How does the G8 Summit relate to me?
The G8 has been operating in the same secretive manner since its start. “Leading” nations have established a system for matching strengths and guaranteeing their maximum profit and advantage, while the rest of us – the non-represented – are busy working and doing what we can to stave off poverty. Leaders at the summit are not making decisions based in our realities – and the decisions they make effectively increase the hardships we face.
They weren’t kidding when they said ‘top-down’.
And yet, looking back over the last few decades, impromptu non-democratically formed organizations like the G8, the IMF, and the WTO have actually put themselves at the head of global developments. Their primary concern is to promote policies like free trade, and the privatization of water and other resources necessary for human survival. These policies often ignore the rights of local producers, workers, and consumers – i.e. people – to security in health, home and livelihood. In this way, they deeply affect our daily lives. In fact, the right to survival itself is more deeply affected the further ‘down the chain.
* We won’t stand for this!
We are ready to stand together before this same force that insists onmaintaining and expanding its own power and authority at the expense ofothers. As we see it, not only do these high-level deals injure the livesof countless women and queer persons, but they would readily erase ourstruggles and existence from the annals of history as well.
* How can they decide our lives without us…
Unlike these self-professed “leader of the free world”, we do not wish to take part in impassively making judgments of the value of other people’s lives. We won’t just stand by and watch as others are judged in this way and “put in their place” either.
Some friends have lost jobs because they refused to wear skirts to work – while others have lost jobs because they did indeed wear skirts to work. Friends who never knew where to turn when pregnant, face charges for murder after making misinformed choices alone in public restrooms. In India, women that police had refused to protect from a serial rapist were later arrested for his murder. In Bolivia, women in debt are seizing the banks, while in Brazil farming women are reclaiming the land taken from them after their husbands left for work and never returned. In Japan, a friend is suing a former employer for constant harassment, “Man or woman! Which is it? Which are you?!”
* Open the door – and find another world.
In each of the countries and towns we were born and raised in, there weredifferent expectations of us – generally shaped by the political,economic, and cultural environment of the time. These expectations haveaffected our conscious and unconscious lives. And we have struggled withthem at times. We have long resisted being boxed in – by sex, gender,
sexuality, and so much more.The Feminist and Queer Unit does believe that all our individual realities are linked upon a common stage. We believe that by listening to each other and seeing how our experiences intersect, we can carry each other past this current world’s wrongs. We can open a door to another world.
There is no better way to fight injustice in our social orders than toconfront what is expected of us – in behaviors and values, in ouractions, cultures, words, and even daily routines. By recognizing theworkings of injustice embedded in our minds, we are empowered to overcomethem. We can defy them, along with the political and economic imbalancesthey serve to maintain.
Try opening a door that leads you beyond your understanding of what’s obvious in reality.
This summer, with the G8 Summit in Hokkaido and activists gathering fromaround the world, the Feminist and Queer Unit has come together to preparea guidebook for assuring women and queer persons will have safe spaces andopen exchanges of information during the event.
Last year, the feminist and queer presence at the anti-G8 summit inGermany was extremely strong. Yet Japan cannot achieve the same. Why isthis?
That’s one step that leads towards a door we believe needs to be opened.
The Feminist and Queer Unit will be getting involved in the following:
* Holding workshops to allow people to plan new collaborative events& actions together.
* Creating spaces, and possibly a cafe, for feminists, queer people, and their friends
* Creating a feminist and queer issues awareness guidebook for otheractivists, and getting involved in information exchanges across lingualbarriers
* Holding workshops for minority groups whose voices are not beingheard within civil society organizations
* Discovering new ways of creating consensus systems that operateunder the assumption on inherent human diversity
* Create a system facilitating the ability of people to turn to eachother for advice in times of trouble or need.
* Work to resolve the different traumas people experience whenworking in the activist field
Big Brother Comes to Kobe
By ERIC JOHNSTON
Exclusive to Debito.org (copyright resides with the author)
As a staff writer for The Japan Times, I’ve had the opportunity to cover more than my fair share of international conferences over the years. In most cases, they took place in Japan, where their organization has always been superb and the security has always been politely restrained.
Until last week’s G8 Environmental Ministers’ summit in Kobe.
Readers of this website are no doubt familiar with Debito’s warning about Sapporo and parts of Hokkaido becoming a virtual police state during the main Leaders’ Summit, which takes place at Lake Toya in early July.
Here, I owe Debito something of an apology, as I originally thought he may have been a bit hyperbolic, as I often am, for dramatic effect in order to emphasize a larger truth. Surely things weren’t that bad? Unfortunately, after my experience at the G8 Environment Ministers’ conference, I’m wondering if he might not have been prophetic.
The general sense of failure regarding the environmental summit itself has been documented in my paper and elsewhere, so I’ll not go into that here. But the monumental incompetence of the Environment Ministry in organizing the event, and the security arrangements that even the more distinguished participants for whom they were designed found excessive, made those of us in the media, and not a few delegates, shake our heads in disbelief at the way Japanese officials spent the vast majority of their time and budget on making sure “terrorists” (and I’ll get to that below) didn’t launch a pre-emptive attack instead of on the kind of advance planning needed to ensure a well-run conference.
Of course, the kind of money needed to host huge international conferences is often in short supply, especially at the Environment Ministry. It is not one of the more politically powerful ministries, as we all know. Its ministers are often up-and-coming politicians in their first Cabinet post, and hope to sit at their desks just long enough to figure out where the paper clips are before the Prime Minister reassigns them to a more glamorous ministry.
But that doesn’t explain the police state mentality in Kobe. At several past events at the same hotel where the environment ministers met, including far-larger and more prominent United Nations’ conferences on disaster relief (which came just weeks after the 2004 Asian tsunami) and AIDS, reporters, delegates, and NGOs were allowed to mingle fairly freely in the hallways, side rooms, hotel lobby, and press center. Security was present, but it was in the background and comparatively low-key.
Not this time. The day before the ministers’ summit, I arrived to attend a related NGO symposium at the Kobe International Convention Center, right beside the Kobe Portopia Hotel where the G8 Environment ministers were due to gather the following day.
As soon as one exited the train station beside the convention center and hotel, there was a battalion of Japanese police officers lined up along the covered walkway leading to both the center and the hotel. They were letting through only those with G8-releated ID badges. Uniformed and plainclothes cops stood every 100 meters or so, keeping a wary eye on visitors. Those without Environment Ministry-issued IDs were directed to take the long way around to the entrance. The chill in the air was not just due to the breeze blowing off Kobe harbor.
The media center was located right beside the hall where the NGOs were scheduled to conduct a day-long symposium. I was surprised to see several police blocking the entrance to the media center, standing at parade rest or in what appeared to be a slight jujitsu position. The cops were staring at everyone who entered the hall, or scanning the room with their eyes. Clearly, they expected trouble from the Japanese and international NGOs, and from the ordinary citizens who had come for the symposium. Needless to say, there was no trouble of any sort.
In my decade and a half experience as a reporter in Japan, this was the first time I’d ever seen such an in-yer-face display of police power on the eve of an international conference that, although important, was still to be attended by just a few Environment Ministers. “As far as I am aware, nobody has ever attempted to assassinate an Environment Minister,” Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commented to me wryly upon seeing the heavy security presence the next day.
Among those of us in the foreign press who have an inkling as to how Japan works, the consensus was the prominent display of force was less about beefing up security for visiting dignitaries and more about beefing up the police and security budget. In my case, I had good circumstantial evidence for drawing that conclusion.
A couple weeks before, friends in Japan’s right-wing media, upon hearing I was going to Kobe for the Environment Ministers’ summit, said, “Oh, we’ve heard the “Sea Shepherd’, the ship involved with the clash with Japanese whalers a few months back, will be docking in Kobe during the summit.” They didn’t say where they got that bit of information. But I’ll bet readers of Debito.org a drink at the microbeer pub of their choice that it was from-who else?-the cops. Need I mention that the “Sea Shepherd” rumor turned out to be completely false?
The heavy police presence was surprising. But far more irritating, and what made everybody’s blood boil, was the slipshod management of the Environment Ministry. At past conferences, reporters and NGOs were able to gain entrance to most of the areas the delegates can access. At the very least, NGOs were allowed into the press room while the hacks were usually allowed to move freely between wherever the media center was and wherever the delegates were meeting.
Again, not this time. In order to get a seat in the press section of the room at the adjacent hotel where the ministers were assembled, reporters had to gather at the media center reception desk at a certain time each day in order be led over to the hotel by somebody from the Environment Ministry. Once we entered the hotel and passed through the metal detectors leading to the lobby area surrounding the meeting room, reporters were told they had two choices. Stay in the lobby area until it was time to be led into the meeting room, or leave while the meeting was still going on and not be allowed to re-enter not only the meeting room (which would have been more understandable) but also the entire floor where the meeting room was located -a floor the size of a football field with at least a dozen other rooms and a huge lobby.
And what of those who showed up at the media center reception desk even a few minutes after ministry officials had led the group of reporters, like a busload of tourists, to the hotel (sometimes well over an hour before the meeting actually began)? Sorry, too late. You can’t go in by yourself. Sit in the media center and wait until the meeting is over. And those who might need to leave the cordoned-off area beside the meeting room for a quick interview upstairs in the hotel lobby? Go ahead. But don’t expect to be allowed back in, even if you have a proper press badge that got you in the first time! Thankfully, after, as diplomats say, a frank exchange of views on the matter with one overzealous Environment Ministry official, I managed to argue my way back in. But the amount of time wasted arguing with the bull-headed bureaucrats over the issue was a surprise, as it had never happened before.
Two actions in particular by the Environment Ministry demonstrated the arrogance and contempt Tokyo bureaucrats feel towards the Fourth Estate. In the first instance, Japanese reporters in the media room were preparing to go over to the hotel for an informal briefing of the day’s events. The time of the briefing had been clearly posted for all to see and had been verbally confirmed with the ministry. Furthermore, the briefing was not in a restricted area of the hotel. Thus, reporters were free to go over to the briefing room individually, and without having to worry about passing through metal detectors and paranoid cops and bureaucrats.
There was still about 10 minutes to go until the briefing, and most reporters were in the media center. Suddenly, somebody rushed in and shouted, ”The briefing has started already!” A mad scramble ensued, as reporters grabbed phones, computers, and notepads and raced over to the briefing room, about a five minute jog away.
We arrived to find a ministry official talking rapidly to the very few reporters who had bothered to show up early. A few minutes later, he wrapped up his remarks and left with no apology, no explanation as to why his briefing started early, and no explanation as to why the ministry had failed to notify the media center of that fact.
To those unfamiliar with the way the Japanese media works, this may not seem noteworthy. But it is unprecedented in my experience. Briefings at international conferences that start late are par for the course. Briefings that start early but with an announcement to all they will start early are not unknown. But briefings that start early with no announcement from anybody that they will start early and then conducted in front of a nearly empty room until other reporters start rushing in are unimaginable. To put it politely, that’s a very serious way to piss off reporters whom you want to write nice things about your event.
Needless to say, the majority of press members were furious. After the guy who did the briefing ran out of the room like a frightened rabbit, the other Environment Ministry officials present got verbally abused by the hacks in a manner one does not hear often enough from Japanese reporters. These officials, perfect examples of the stereotypical spineless and cowardly Tokyo bureaucrat, just kept repeating, ”moshiwake gozaimasen” over and over, bowing slightly and frowning when the abuse from reporters became particularly intense.
Worse was to come. On the last day of the conference, some members of the press nearly came to physical blows with the ministry’s press section. Normally at these conferences, groups of reporters wait around for a final statement from the delegates, as that’s the main news story for the day. If you’re on a tight deadline, as you usually are, it’s imperative to get a copy of the statement as quickly as possible.
How it works in Japan is that, once the final statement is ready, copies are made and then brought to wherever the reporters are. A mad rush ensues to get a copy from harried officials, and a reporter has to have the physical agility of an Olympic gymnast and the body checking skills of a Philadelphia Flyers thug-on-ice in order to squeeze through the scrum of reporters and snatch a copy.
Normally, paper copies will either be placed on a table or passed out by hand by the press officials (this is their job, after all). But when stacks of copies of the Environment Minister’s statement arrived hot off the presses from some back office and given to Environment Ministry press officials, they held the copies above their heads for all of the eagerly waiting press to see. . .and then dropped or threw the copies on the floor and backed away as the press had to dive like dogs on a bone. Of course, and is usually the case, there weren’t enough copies to go around. So, it was first come, first serve until the second batch came along 10 minutes later.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. How pathetic on the part of all concerned. Why not avoid all of the nonsense and just post the statement on the ministry homepage and let everybody download the information with no fuss or muss? Especially at a conference on the environment where one might expect the organizers to show environmental concern by cutting down on the amount of paper used. Good question, and one you can be sure is being asked in Tokyo at the moment.
The final coup de grace, at least for the overseas media who came to Kobe thinking they were in highly organized, polite, and efficient Japan and at a G8 meeting where English language materials would be available, was not the slipshod organization, the hordes of stern-faced cops, or the childish and unprofessional attitudes of the Environment Ministry press bureau. It was the paucity of English language information.
Ministry officials would rush into the press room where the overseas media were gathered, make an announcement in Japanese and then leave quickly with no English interpretation. Thus, foreign reporters from abroad were reliant for the first day and a half or so of the conference on the kindness of Japanese reporters who took the time to interpret, or of resident foreign reporters fluent in Japanese, like myself and Archbishop Pio d’Emilia, of the Unreformed Church of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.
After watching the chaos for a day or so, Pio, who does not suffer fools gladly, decided to intervene. On behalf of those reporters from abroad, Pio told the Environment Ministry in a polite but firm voice to stop running around like headless chickens, to remember this was not a domestic event but an international, G8 event, and to get its act together and provide English information to those who couldn’t understand.
To the ministry’s credit, they increased the amount of English information after that, although I can’t say if it was sufficient or not for the foreign reporters who so desperately needed it. Pio later interviewed me (wearing a “Japanese Only” T-shirt on-camera) for the Italian TV station he works for, where I spoke on the security and chaos of the conference. The damage had been done, though, and you have to wonder if the ministry officials directly involved in the G8 Environment Ministers conference will ever be reprimanded. What am I saying? Of course they won’t be.
At this point, many readers are no doubt thinking, so what? Isn’t this just all a teapot tempest, anyway, the moaning and groaning of a spoiled, arrogant American reporter who expects to be waited on hand and foot? Yes and no. Obviously in the grand scheme of things, this experience is not important and it’s hard, perhaps, impossible, not to sound like whining idiot to those who weren’t there.
I have also covered conferences in places like China and Indonesia, and, certainly, the kind of treatment dished out in Kobe to reporters is nothing compared to what foreign reporters have seen and experienced in those countries. Nobody was arrested, detained, physically abused or even shouted at by the cops or by security at the Kobe summit. In fact, the cops weren’t nearly as surly as some of the Environment Ministry officials I was forced to deal with.
But there are a number of reasons why I overcome my hesitancy about putting keystroke to Word Perfect and decided to write this story. First and foremost, many readers of Debito.org will be in or around not only Hokkaido during the main G8 Leaders Summit in July, but also Tokyo, Kansai, and other areas of Japan where the lesser ministerial summits are taking place. The security of the Environment Ministers conference may foreshadow the kinds of security measures that will be seen around Japan over the next month, as we approach the Toyako Summit. More ominously, these may be the kind of security measures we may yet see for more “international conferences” following the Hokkaido summit, as the government and their police and media allies bray on and on about possible “terrorist attacks.”
The second reason is to illustrate, in a small way, just what your tax money is buying -a stronger police state and a bureaucracy that is balkanized and increasingly unable, in my experience at least, to get the simple things done at these huge international conferences to the extent that they once could. Again, a little perspective. I’ve attended far more chaotic conferences elsewhere, as, I’m sure, all foreign reporters and delegates have, and as I’m sure many of you have. But long-term residents of whatever country they happen to reside in do have historical memory. I know many Debito.org readers in particular are likely to recall the not-too-distant past when much of the above would have been unthinkable at any type of conference in Japan.
Still, are these the cranky ramblings of a guy in middle-age who sounds like your father? Absolutely. But that doesn’t make the grumbling any less accurate, does it? NGOs in Hokkaido I have spoken to, as well as activists like Debito, who warn of G8 security measures are the thin end of the wedge, need to be taken seriously by the public and by those in the media, myself included.
Of course, human nature being what it is, incidents of bureaucratic arrogance and stupidity in the heat of the moment are often forgiven, both in the press room and among members of the public, if the bureaucrats prove themselves to be competent in the end. But that was not the case in Kobe and it may be part of a trend. As I write this, reports have reached me that the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama was a logistical nightmare and also extremely poorly organized.
In Osaka, the police have been out in force for the past month, ostensibly conducting security checks in advance the upcoming G8 Finance Ministers summit in mid-June. But it’s clearly overkill and, as one friend in the local media said, it might actually backfire. The current Osaka governor has indicated he wants to cut the prefectural police budget, and what better way to garner support for the idea than by having the boys in blue out in force, harassing motorists and pedestrians who are registered voters, all for a two-day event that is unlikely to get more than a few minutes notice in the local media, if that. Still, I will be very interested, as I know Debito and many of you will be, to hear from readers after all of the hoopla is over, and to learn, once and for all, if the comments made now were reflected too much of a concern about the security measures, or too little.
(The opinions contained within this piece are those of Eric Johnston and not those of The Japan Times)
Hokkaido Police G8 anti-terrorism measures: deputizing coke machines with scare posters, police checkpoints in Chitose Airport…
Posted by debito on June 8th, 2008
Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO
Hi Blog. With less than a month to go before the G8 Summit comes to Hokkaido, here’s some information on how the public is being steeled for the event. I expect things are only going to get worse (like they did for the Sapporo leg of the 2002 World Cup), when walking while White in public is going to be cause for suspicion, with street corner ID checks by overtrained paranoid cops indulging in racial profiling.
Eric Johnston and I have already talked about the oversecuritization for both the Debito.org blog and for the Japan Times.
Here’s the first evidence of that: Deputized coke machines… (and other places with this poster up; I peeled my copy off the wall at Odori Subway Station):
Title: ”PLEASE UNDERSTAND AND COOPERATE WITH PRECAUTIONARY POLICING”
Left-hand slogan: ”For terrorists, the SUMMIT is the perfect opportunity to show their own existence.”
Lower slogan in red: ”JAPAN IS NOT UNCONNECTED TO TERRORISM!” (i.e. is no exception to being a target)
Bottom caption: ”2008 HOKKAIDO TOYAKO SUMMIT: Notify us if you see anyone or anything suspicious. HOKKAIDO POLICE.”
Poster found in Sapporo Odori Station on May 27, 2008. Coke machine photos taken June 3, 2008, in a quiet business district of Sapporo Chuo-ku.
As for the visuals, gotta love the soft fat squidgy likeable alert cop (unlike the evil lean gray terrorists). Good news is that the Japanese police have learned to make the terrorists not ethnic- or foreign-looking. That’s a positive development, compared to the police’s past poster handiwork.
More on the G8’s effects on Hokkaido residents when information becomes apparent. Another Sapporo resident, Olaf Karthaus, just sent this to The Community on Saturday evening:
Quick update on police activities related to The Summit
1. increased traffic checks on highways: Beware of new Toyota Crowns in Hokkaido. I have heard that the Hokkaido police got new vehicles for the summit and they are using them now to increasingly check people who speed. So if you see a car that seemingly erratically changes speed, takes over cars, suddenly decelerates and let other cars takes them over, beware.
2. Car checks when on your way to the airport. One lane of the two-lane access street is blocked and police is waving cars down. Dunno how they determine who is going to be flagged. Random?
3. Gaijin card checks at New Chitose airport: Plainclothes policemen (but easy to spot if you look, since they have earphones). I was politely asked (in broken English) to show my passport because of increased security measures for the summit. He immediately and unasked flashed his badge (not stolen or fake? How can I know? Never seen the real thing before). Of course I didn’t carry my passport, so he wanted to see my gaijin card. He put a pen to paper and asked if I mind if he takes down my name. I said yes, I do mind, and he complied. A quick check of the pronunciation of my name, and I was waved through. He told me that these measures will continue until the summit is over. All foreign-looking people will be checked. I still could catch my train (didn’t leave for another few minutes), but I didn’t feel to have enough time to ask him how they determine who is a foreigner and who is not. Also didn’t ask what kind of measures I could take that would ensure that I am waved through quicker (since I have a couple of more trips down south before the summit. I can already imagine the chaos when a full load of foreigners happens to be on my flight. Then I will definitely miss my train!
4. By the way, I was in Yokohama during the Africa Summit two weeks ago. Our conference happened to be in the same complex (Pacifico) as the Summit. Extremely high security (found out that evening from the news that PM Fukuda and the Tenno were there, too), but no gaijincard check whatsoever. And I was going in and out for three consecutive days!
Anyway, the inconvenience is going to increase up here. :( Olaf
Debito in Sapporo