- Update 24th of June from Tokyo
- Lake Toya via Helicopter
- Increased security during G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit
- Police arrest Greenpeace activists over stolen whale meat
- Italy: The Authoritarian State In Place
Update 24th of June from Tokyo mostly for people coming to Japan, but also explaining camps and infrastructure
Japanese Mobilization G8 2008
Everything is in full swing here in Tokyo. The atmophere is vibrant and the Japanese are very well organised, although there are far too few of them to get everyting done. For the Japanese activists it is nearly the first time ever to have an international protest. So any and all help from everywhere is greatly appreciated. Also it is still not too late to come to Japan! Everybody is looking forward to share experiences and get more international connections and networks.
Because translation I still difficult, the international activists are trying to meet up regularly and exchange information. The next definite meeting point is at the Tokyo convergence centre in Koenji, Wednesday 25 june at 11:30am. The next big informational meeting for internationals will be Friday 27 june at 6pm, location to be announced.
Groups against G8 and for the Protest Infrastructure
There are two main hubs of activity: Tokyo and Sapporo. At the moment most of the activity is still going on in Tokyo where the working groups from the G8 action network, the Media groups and all the working groups like Camp (incl. Lake Toya (with the Food collective, Media, Safer Space, Entertainment, International, Football) and Sapporo Camp Working Group), Infocenters, Gender, Anti-Military, Anti-Poverty, Foreign Ministry Action are meeting long hours to sort out the final details. Here is an update on much of the current activities.
There are three main networks mobilising against the G8.
1. G8 Action Network – www.jca.apc.org/alt-g8/en
2. NGO Alternative Summit – www.g8ngoforum.org/english
3. Hokkaido Citizen Forum – http://kitay-hokkaido.net (japanese)
There will also be lots of events in Tokyo and in Sapporo before the G8 summit. This week in Kyoto there will be actions against the Foreign Minister’s meeting of the G8 and this Saturday there will be a day of action in Tokyo.
This is an update on the plans of the G8 Action Network.
Tokyo : As of 25 june, the main convergence space in Tokyo will be in Koenji.
Sapporo: 3 Media Centers !!! INFOS: http://g8medianetwork.org/en/cmce
1st Media centre. Located at International Guest House in Tenjinyama Kokusai House, 17-1-80, 2-jo, Hiragishi, Toyohira-ku Sumikawa station with Nanboku subway line Go here as first stop if you want to get involved with the setting up of the camps or the running of the media centres in Sapporo. This will be the main point of contact. This is also the largest of the three media centers and will be equipped with a wireless connection. This will be the main hub for Indymedia.
The 2nd will be located at Nishi 18-chome 17, 3-jo, Kita-ku Nishi 18-chome station, Tozai subway line It will be much smaller and will hold pobably only two computers available to the general public for indymedia updates.
The 3rd will be at the Hokkaido University. 2nd Floor, Clerk Kaikan, Nishi 8, Kita 8, Kita-ku, Sapporo-shi JR Sapporo station – 8 min. walk It will be used for press conferences with the mainstream media.
At the first media centre there will be flyers available with a map and the location of all three media centres.
Camps: There will be three camps organised by the G8 Action Network. Everyone will first go to the Camp in Sapporo and then move on the one of the three Lake Toya camps.
Camp from the 3rd to 9th of July
1. Camp Sapporo. The exact location of this camp is still being negotiated, but it will be inside Sapporo and reachable by bus or subway from the main train station. The camp can hold about 1,000 people.
Camps from the 6th – 9th of July
2. Camp Toyoura – Toyoura-cho Shinrin-koeuen (Toyoura Forest Park) Hokkaido Abuta-gun Toyoura-cho Azarebunge 419-1 THIS will be the camp for the international people. This will be the larger of the two camps in the area near Lake Toya. It is located on the southern coast to the west of Lake Toya. It will be open from the 6th to the 9th. The camp can hold about 600 people. There will be shuttle busses to and from the Sapporo camp. The nearest train station is Ribun station. There is only one train every two hours and it is a 40 min walk from the train station to the camp. This is a private camping ground that the Japanese activists are renting. There is already a large kitchen area and a big indoor hall for meetings. There are also three searate toilet areas.
3. Camp Sobetsu Soubetsu-cho Orofure Rest House (Orofure Hot Piaza) Hokkaido Usu-gun Soubetsu-cho Azabenkai 204-5 This will be the camp for the japanese leftist groups. This camp will be smaller (about 150-200) people, and will be located to the east of Lake Toya. This camp will work together with the Hokkaido network camp which is located to the south east of Lake Toya. This site is usually a ski resort, so it is hilly (not much flat land for tents) and there is a big building with a couple of rooms for disabled or families or people travelling with children.
4. Camp Date Sorry not so much information. This is organised by Sapporo people and it will be used for the Esperanto Conference and the local people from Hokkaido. It was said, that this can hold 1.000 people.
5. Also there is the Ainu Mosir, a big gathering of the indigenious people of Japan. www.ainumosir2008.com/en
Infrastructure There will be no showers at any of the camps. It might also be very cold at night (about 11C), so bring warm clothes. It is also the rainy season in Japan, so bring good rain gear. Also bring your own tents, sleeping bags, etc. The food collective will be preparing (together with all the camp residents) three meals a day for a donation of 350 yen per meal. The camp is also requesting 500 yen per night for staying there.
Transport The nearest train station is Ribun station. There is only one train every two hours and it is about a 40 min walk from the train station.
Lake Toya via Helicopter
To get an impression of the site and surroundings where the G8 will meet, see flight via helicopter on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFZMyvhjTb0&feature=related
Find forests, lakes and streets for planning actions.
Increased security during G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit
The 34th G8 Summit will be held in Toyako, Hokkaido from Monday, 7 July to Wednesday 9 July. Entry to the airport for purposes other than those directly related to travel will be restricted and other stringent security measures will be in force during that period. We ask for your support and cooperation.
Increased security period
Sunday, 22 June to Thursday, 10 July 2008
Restricted airport entry
Tuesday, 1 July to Thursday, 10 July 2008
Availability of coin lockers suspended
Airport coin lockers will not be available for use during the following period:
♦ Monday, 7 July to Wednesday 9 July 2008
For further information, please contact the following number:
♦ Narita Airport Information: Tel: 0476-34-8000 Lines may be busy due to congestion.
Lines may be busy due to congestion.
Police arrest Greenpeace activists over stolen whale meat
Police on Friday arrested two individuals connected with Greenpeace Japan on suspicion of stealing a box of whale meat that was later used to expose alleged embezzlement by members of a whaling vessel.
Prefectural police said Greenpeace member Junichi Sato, 31, of Tokyo and Toru Suzuki, 41, of Yokohama snatched a box containing about 20 kilograms of cured whale meat from the Seino Transportation Co. Aomori branch in mid-April. The parcel had been sent by a crew member of the Nisshin Maru research whaling ship from Tokyo to Hokkaido.
Police were not sure if Suzuki was a member of the environmental group, sources said.
Greenpeace officials acknowledged they intercepted the parcel without permission to expose the suspected illegal diversion of whale meat by crew members for personal gain.
They added that they initially had planned to return the box to the Seino depot, but decided to keep the meat after judging that it was "valid evidence of a serious act of embezzlement."
The group estimated the meat contained in the parcel was worth between 110,000 yen and 350,000 yen ($1,019 and $3,243). The box was one of 47 parcels sent to the homes of 12 crew members of the whaling ship that was tracked by Greenpeace.
A Greenpeace representative told The Asahi Shimbun on Wednesday that the group had intended to "raise issue with the situation surrounding research whaling, rather than single out the actions of individuals, and to stir debate over whether it was necessary to continue whaling at the expense of taxpayers' money."
"We believe we made some progress in helping the general public become aware of what research whaling is about," the official said.
Greenpeace filed a criminal complaint with Tokyo prosecutors on May 15, saying the crew members had engaged in embezzlement. The group held a news conference the same day to show the intercepted package and present the group's findings.
Prosecutors, however, have yet to act on the criminal complaint.
According to Seino, the box was one of four sent by the crew member. The meat in question was sent from Oi pier in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward on April 15 to a personal home address in Hakodate, Hokkaido.
Seino filed a theft report to police on May 16.(IHT/Asahi: June 20,2008)
Italy: The Authoritarian State In Place
23 June, 2008
(Rome) Anyone traveling to Italy this year will find a lovely, calm and tranquil country. This June the rolling hills around Rome are unusually green and the waters of the Tiber River slicing through the city are white-capped and swift after abundant rainfall in May and early June. Elegant sidewalk cafés and restaurants are packed. Brightly colored double-decker tour buses glide slowly along the Roman Forum and around the Coliseum. Summer has arrived and the food and wine are good.
So calm is Italy that when the neo-Fascist Defense Minister announced his decision to send army troops to patrol city streets, most people shrugged, more absorbed by the European Soccer Cup and making a living than the devastation of political-social Italy. People act as if what is happening here were happening in another country or on another continent. Not in Italia. Only isolated skeptics here and there, like the marginalized Left opposition, ask ironically when the first curfew will be posted. And, one might add, how long before martial law arrives?
Busily trying to make ends meet, hustling Italians are politically jaded. Like Americans they seem unconcerned about what is going on behind the scenes. This spreading and contagious indifference, this chi se ne frega? (Who gives a damn?) mood is the reason for my spate of articles about Fascism in Italy, a nation of only 60 million people far from fortress America. For what is happening here is much more than simply “foreign news.” What is happening on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea today reflects a new infectious mood in a corporatist European Union-dominated Europe moving rapidly to the right. And what happens in Europe is of vital significance to people of the USA. One should care. One should be extremely concerned as to whether Europe will continue its political deterioration or instead wake up to the reality of a continental wide emergence of authoritarianism—or put bluntly, to a resurgence of neo-Fascism-Corporatism.
On June 18 the Italian Senate approved a new law on “security,” a law however now labeled by the opposition “Save the Prime Minister Law.” The scandal for aware people is an amendment nonchalantly attached to that bill which does no less than block judicial procedures in a wide category of court cases including also one major judicial process against none other than neo-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The law puts a one-year stop on judicial procedures for crimes committed before 2002 and carrying jail sentences of less than ten years, for example for such crimes as armed robbery and even rape. The law in effect stops 100,000 trials in order to block one: a pending case against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for bribery, by chance committed before 2002 and by chance carrying a sentence of 8 years.
So he’s at it again: making laws ad personam to protect himself and his business interests. Speaking of conflict of interests! Not only America’s Cheney and Bush et al engage in such nefarious activities.
On the same day, while Italians worked and tourists swarmed in expensive shopping streets of downtown Rome, the nearby Parliament approved also a new law for the criminalization and expulsion from Italy of “illegal immigrants”, coincidentally one day after another boatload of illegal immigrants sank between Libya and Italy, leaving 149 dead in the graveyard the Mediterranean has become. There was one survivor.
Meanwhile the neo-Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa (neo-Fascist National Alliance Party) confirmed the deployment of 3000 troops to patrol the streets of Italy as fulfillment of campaign slogans of “security.” The army instead of police on the streets most closely resembles the use of the military in the cities of dictatorial Colombia today. In Italy today the words “emergency” and “security” are used in the same way as “terrorism” in the USA—justification for the suppression of civil rights. When army troops hit city streets, look out! Golpe and martial law are in the air and dictatorship just around the corner.
From day to day the face of a new form of Fascism is emerging clearly both on the streets and in the corridors of power in Italy. Only a decade ago such a charge would have been ridiculed. Fascism in our beloved Italy? “Oh,” people say today, “that was such a long time ago! History doesn’t repeat itself.” Not on the peninsula in the sun where palm trees sway in sea breezes, the land of good food and soothing wines and beautiful women. Who would have believed possible a return to authoritarianism in Wolfgang Goethe’s “land where the lemon trees bloom?”
After all, Italy is a free and democratic country. Italians in fact are Europe’s most fervent voters. Electors par excellence. They go to the urns in droves. Up to 85% of the electorate turns out for local, national and European elections and for a variety of popular referenda. Italians love to vote. They participate in the political system. Early last century they voted in Mussolini. And in 2001 they voted for Berlusconi. However, these Italic peoples are a fickle people. A couple years ago they got a glimpse of the true face of Silvio Berlusconi and voted him out of office. But by last spring they had forgotten that face and voted him back in power.
Italians last April believed Berlusconi had changed. They believed they were electing a statesman. The statesman Berlusconi so wants to be. The person who could make Italy a normal country. But Berlusconi’s true nature of the outrageous crook he is betrays him each time. No one at age 72 changes from one day to the next. Daily I observe Prime Minister Berlusconi in his most pensive pose, his thin lips clamped shut, his face a veritable mask from all the lifting, a contemplative and preoccupied expression in his eyes—fake expression, phony and false—and I can’t help but think of Thomas Mann’s Hochstapler, that irresistible confidence man, Felix Krull. Berlusconi simply cannot control his thirst for power. For the power of GWB, the power of his political cousin Nicolas Sarkozy across the Alps, the power of Vladimir Putin.
For Italy’s Prime Minister, the parliamentary system is a charade and/or an obstacle to be overcome. For him the limits of the Prime Minister of Italy (that is, the President of the Council of Ministers) of a coalition government must be degrading. In his estimation the testimony of the London lawyer David Mills that Berlusconi paid him to lie in a case concerning the use of black funds of Berlusconi’s Fininvest Holding Company for bribery is insignificant in comparison to his own political destiny. No dissent about a stupid law concerning a little bribery is going to stop Berlusconi. The stakes are high. Why, a sentence like that and he could forget his dream of becoming Italy’s President in 2013.
Just as at the beginning of his premiership in 2001, Berlusconi’s energies today—only one month after the installation of his fourth government—still aim at clearing himself of the endless backlog of judicial procedures against him accumulated during the construction of his media empire from the late 1970s. As the newly elected Premier at the start of the new millennium he wasted two years of the nation’s time and money to pass a series of laws ad personam to clear himself of charges of various forms of corruption, bribery, the creation and use of black funds, of indirect mafia ties and collusion with illegal Masonic lodges. Now, barely back in the saddle, he is again up to his old tricks: another law to save himself.
For Berlusconi, the unabashed egotist, the only good law is what is good for him personally. But what can Italians expect from a man who created his own political party leaning over the hood of a car on Milan’s Piazza San Babila—with what funds is unclear—which he himself named il Popolo della Libertà (The People of Freedom Party), personally appointed all its officials from top to bottom, and outlined its electoral program. He made an alliance with neo-Fascists and separatists of north Italy and co-opted them into his coalition. After winning a crushing electoral victory he appointed not only his ministers and deputy ministers but also indirectly the members of his parliamentary majority. (According to the present electoral law Italians do not vote for specific representatives, they simply check a list of candidates compiled by party chiefs.) Now in firm control of both the executive and legislative branches, Berlusconi is free to devote his efforts to attacking the magistracy and deforming the judicial system and, as he said at a press conference at the European Union in Brussels, “subverting democracy” in order to save himself and his interests.
One last item concerning the return of Berlusconi to the political scene: On the same June 18 in a speech to Italy’s Trade Confederation the irrepressible Prime Minister said: “I will demand the immediate approval of the Lisbon Treaty by the 26 nations of the European Union, except Ireland, which can do as it likes.” This treaty is in effect an incomprehensible re-edition of the draft European Constitution, already voted down by France and The Netherlands, drawn up in a new version by EU bureaucrats in representation of corporate Europe. “Europe,” Berlusconi continued, “is very different from that of two years ago when there were people like Tony Blair (a traitor to European Socialism), Aznar (the ex-Spanish Fascist), Chirac (never a fan of an extended EU), and myself. (Berlusconi has never been an ardent supporter of the EU and detests its rules, as he does any rules at all.)
The disconcerting events of the first month in power of the new government of Silvio Berlusconi—militarization, army troops on the streets and more troops and aircraft promised to Bush for Afghanistan, criminalization of illegal immigrants, laws ad personam to save himself—are only the start of a dismal period for Italy and for Europe. The worst is yet to come. In today’s artificial atmosphere of fear and xenophobia, Italy’s Right government with an obedient parliamentary majority and dominated by a Felix Krull at the helm seems capable of any deformation of the democratic process.
Gaither Stewart, a Senior Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal/tantmieux, is a novelist and journalist based in Italy. His stories, essays and dispatches are read widely throughout the Internet on many leading venues. His collections of fiction, Icy Current Compulsive Course, To Be A Stranger and Once In Berlin are published by Wind River Press. (www.windriverpress.com ). His recent novel, Asheville, is published by Wastelandrunes, (www.wastelandrunes.com) .
By Gaither Stewart