No-Vox

G8: Japan at the forefront of global governance

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Restrictions to freedom of speech, arrestations, no issuance of visas, South Corean trade unionists blocked : Japan is a good cop of globalization !

A delegation of No Vox France has been in Japan since June 28 at the invitation of No Vox Japan and in the context of the mobilization against the G8. The delegation took part in four demonstrations against the G8 since its arrival : in Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo.

The network denounces the lack of freedom to demonstrate in Japan. The Japanese authorities tolerate at most processions with a width of three meters (the corridor normally assigned to the bus), preventing the deployment of our banners. The processions are separated of not interrupted trafic by a column of police and important parades are divided into subgroups by cordons of mobile guards.

A quiet typical Japanese demonstration

It has not always been so and it is the current weakness of the social movements, due to decades of intense police repression, which explains the drastic reduction of the scope of civil liberties, despite Japanese are struggling. The Japanese activists are objectively terrorized by police arbitrary.

From this point of view Japan, far from being a particular case, appears to us at the forefront of global governance and a model that is expected to be applied in all parliamentary democracies. The freedom to demonstrate is emptied of its substance at the point of mascarade and it is in fact nothing else but the mode of "participation" that is to be imposed on citizens in the framework of "global governance". In short a Board of Directors (the G8) entirely submitted to its corporate shareholders and a "lane for expression," like a bus lane, where it is forbidden to cross the white line and to disrupt the "fluidity" of markets and trafic. Both separated by a police lane.

Demonstration against the G8 in Tokyo, 30th of june 2008

Facing with this situation and during the united demonstration in Sapporo on July 5, 2008, movements have crossed peacefully the white line in spite of the police cordon and doubled the area set aside for the freedom of expression. Three Japaneses were arrested, including one member of No Vox Japan, and equipment seized (truck and sound.) No Vox is fordering immediate release of those who were arrested under the ridiculous charge of "non-compliance with the rules on the traffic of cars in the prefecture of Hokkaido because the demo lorry extended the width of the event with intend and excited demonstrators. [And] interference with police officers in duty by refusing to comply and stop the vehicle. " For these petty infraction, since no law has been violated, custody can be extended up to 23 days and prisoners may be jailed for months, what demonstrates once again that Japan has de facto abolished the freedom to demonstrate while trying to preserve appearances.

United demonstration in Sapporo against G8, 5th of July

In addition, the demonstrators gathered at Toyoura camp "close" to the red zone as allowed by authorities (20 km away) were blocked from leaving the camp July 7, as they were walking to the station, refusing to walk the 20 km on foot through the countryside and under rain to reach a allowed point at the border of the red zone.

On the road to the train station

In addition, No Vox strongly protests against the blocking of a delegation of trade unionists from South Korea by the Japanese police and requires them to be allowed to reach immediately Hokkaido. Similarly, delayed issuance of a visa to a representative of Kenyan grass-roots organizations who was involved in many workshops is intolerable.

Generally speaking, we are asking the authorities to publicly assume their choice to abolish civil liberties rather than to push formal democracy up to the absurd!

We will support all the associations and organizations in Japan, and in particular those concerned with daily workers, who mobilize to reclaim an area of freedom. These facked freedom of speech and limited access to public space are not worthy of a country defined as democratic. For the Japanese situation cannot be branded elsewhere as an example of "good governance", we must provide unwavering solidarity to all those fighting for freedom of speech in Japan.

No Vox

Toyoura, July 7, 2008


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