Just say No: G8 in ’08

The G8 Summit — a meeting of the leaders of the nations that monopolize two-thirds of Earth’s wealth– will take place July 7-9 at Toya Lake in Hokkaido, Japan. Although the Group of Eight does not have any legitimate right to decide planetary affairs, they have self-appointed themselves world rulers. The G8 drives neo-liberal globalization — spreading poverty, violence, hatred, segregation, and environmental destruction.

NO! G8 Action is calling for an International Day of Action on July 5 before the summit. Most of all, we would love to have you come to Japan! This is a crucial moment for Japanese social and political movements to open themselves to global coomrades to uplift all our spirits. For this your creative engagement is indispensable.

In Japan, our action days will begin on July 1. There will be a series of themed demos in Sapporo — the city nearest Toya Lake — during the succeeding four days. July 5th shall be the day of mass rally and demo in Sapporo with a simultaneous protest in different cities of the world. During the three days of the Summit we are planning mass direct action at sites near Lake Toya. People are trying to approach the site as close as possible to send their voices.

The themes for the days of action are tentatively: (1) Anti-neo-liberalism, namely, anti-poverty, homelessness; (2) farmers’ day; (3) anti-military base/anti-war; and (4) the day of natives and minorities, symbolizing the Ainu people, Hokkaido’s native habitants before Japan’s colonization in the 19th century. If you come to Japan you are encouraged to make proposals or organize your own actions in consultation with Japanese groups. Your creativity is most welcome and appreciated.

Various Projects

The Japanese activist scene needs global connections and exposure, so we ask for different types of participation. What is crucial primarily is a convergence, namely, to meet and talk person-to-person. Aside from the actions, we are planning the following events:

All the activists who have a little extra time are encouraged to meet at workshops and speak about themselves. These will take place in Tokyo, the Kyoto/Osaka area, and Sapporo, around the end of June. There will be a series of symposia featuring activist type intellectuals such as: Michael Hardt, David Graeber, Marina Sitrin, and Andrej Grubacic, who will come to Japan for solidarity.

Music concerts of Anti-G8 themes are planned in Tokyo, Sapporo, as well as at the camp near Lake Toya, the site of the G8. The participants are punks, Djs, and vanguard musicians who took part in the Sound Demonstrations against the Iraq war.

In Sapporo City, we are organizing screenings of films related to the Global Justice Movement and the Anti-G8 projects from the past. Various kinds of radical theater groups are going to take part in the anti-G8 protests — some in their own theater space, others on the street or other sites.

There will be an Alternative Summit (from July 6th to 8th), involving a wider range of groups including NGOs. NO! G8 Action is going to be a part of it. There will also be a summit of the natives. Meanwhile the state of Japan is planning an international conference of university presidents. Against this a coalition of students’ organizations calling for protest.

Facilities for foreign visitors

To get to Sapporo, which is the nearest city to Lake Toya and the biggest city in Hokkaido, you will have to fly either via Tokyo or Osaka. Hokkaido is connected to the mainland only via airplane or boat; there is no car traffic accessible to it. So all of you might as well stay in either city for a period of time before the summit and participate in the events.

In Tokyo, we will set up a convergence center where you can get information and participate in workshops. We will secure the cheapest accommodation (about $15 per night) and also organize a network of people who are willing to accommodate visitors for free.

In Sapporo, there will be a convergence center. There will be a camp where you can stay with your own tents and sleeping bags. There will be workshops and events. There will be an independent media center, where foreign media activists can go and set up their station.

From Sapporo, Lake Toya can be reached by train (three hours). There will be a camp and media center there as well. This is the place where the main events will take place.

Japanese Police and Immigration Issues

The most common weapons Japanese police carry are truncheons, plastic shields, and sand-stuffed gloves. They used to use tear gas and water-cannon, but not much recently. Pepper spray has not been used for some time, but some source says that they might start using it. They don’t do mass-arrests like the European and American police. They tend to do close combat by forming a line and arresting people one by one by drawing them into their side. They are not as aggressive as American and European police forces.

It is not illegal to hide your face on the street. One does not have to respond to their interrogations; one does not have to let them check your belongings. If you are Japanese, once you are arrested, you are advised to be completely silent, and likely to be held for twenty-three days — the extensions of three days, ten days, and ten days. The enormity of the custody period has been criticized by Amnesty International.

In the past, foreign political activists have rarely been arrested. The police prefer to let them go. Probably there is a policy of not making political events internationally known. Japan tends to be very nervous about their international reputation. We are hoping that this will remain the same for the anti-G8 2008.

In any case, a legal team has been formed, while politicians and civic organizations have organized a campaign to watch police behaviors toward the G8 2008.

The bad news is that beginning from the late November, Japan will begin to employ the same immigration rules as the US. It is locally called the “US Visit,” where all foreign visitors are finger-printed and photo-taken. People are organizing a wide opposition to this. We cannot tell you how severe the restriction of the immigration will be for the activists coming for the anti-G8 protests. But we can recommend the activists who have many arrest records in the past and are nervous about it, but absolutely want to come — please contact us and we shall try to make special visa application. All in all, if Japanese immigration restricts foreign visitors too severely on this occasion, this will be made into a international stir. We will prepare a campaign for this.

For info check http://a.sanpal.co.jp/no-g8