Japan Times on dangerous precedents set by G8 Summit security overkill


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Hi Blog.  DR sent this article as a comment to yesterday’s blog, but it’s worthy of an entry all it’s own.  It says what Debito.org has been saying all along–that security overkill sets dangerous precedents for everyone in Japan.  Arudou Debito

G8 security steps hit as dangerous precedent
The Japan Times, Saturday, June 28, 2008
By ERIC JOHNSTON, Staff writer


KYOTO — Their region having played host to three Group of Eight ministerial conferences over the past month, many in Kansai are breathing a sigh of relief and hoping the security measures that residents, and even summit participants, found excessive are now in the past.

But human rights activists warn the heavy police presence and security checks seen in Kansai are setting a dangerous precedent for next month’s G8 summit in Hokkaido and future international events throughout Japan.

In May, Kobe hosted the G8 environment ministers meeting amid unusually tight security.

Several days before the summit, some local media got wind that a ship belonging to Sea Shepherd, the conservation group that clashed with the Japanese whaling fleet earlier this year, might dock in Kobe during the event.

NGOs present in Kobe suspect the rumor, which turned out to be false, was started by Japanese police seeking to justify the huge amount of money being spent on security this year for all of the related summits.

Kobe’s Port Island, the site of the environment ministers conference, was a virtual fortress during the event, with traffic heavily restricted, many roads blocked off and hundreds of uniformed police officers and plainclothesmen patrolling the area.

Inside the Portopia Hotel, where the ministers met, guests and visitors had to undergo strict security checks that surprised even the top U.N. top climate change negotiator.

In Osaka, police began warning commuters in late April of security checks in subways for the two-day G8 finance ministers meeting in mid-June.

Traffic checks on the narrow, always crowded streets around the Osaka International Convention Center — the site of the meeting — tested the patience of many Osakans, a group not noted for their forbearance.

But the Kobe and Osaka events were topped by the security at the foreign ministers meeting in Kyoto on Thursday and Friday. Nearly 6,200 police officers were mobilized for the meeting.

Non-G8 visitors to Kyoto before and during the conference discovered that coin lockers in Kyoto Station were sealed and the Kyoto Imperial Palace, where the Kyoto Guesthouse is located, was closed off.

The Kobe and Osaka meetings saw no major demonstrations. But on Wednesday night, nearly 300 anti-G8 demonstrators marched peacefully through the streets of Kyoto.

Riot police shepherded the marchers through Maruyama Park and the historic Gion district while plainclothesmen, their faces hidden behind white masks and sunglasses, videotaped the demonstrators.

On June 10, Kyoto police raided the office of a local anti-G8 activist and arrested him on a four-year-old charge of illegally applying for unemployment insurance.

On Thursday, a South Korean labor activist opposed to the G8 meetings was forced to return home after being denied entry to Japan.

Cheong Ui Heon arrived at Kansai International Airport on Wednesday and was planning to take part in a demonstration that night, but was detained by Immigration authorities after allegedly being told the purpose of his trip to Japan was too vague.

Jun Yamamoto, secretary general of Asian Wide Cooperation Kyoto, an anti-G8 NGO, said it was clear both the June 10 arrest and the refusal to allow the South Korean activist into Japan were aimed at intimidating those the government fears, and warned the heavy security seen in Kansai this past month bodes ill.


“The G8 summits have provided a dangerous pretext for the authorities to use preventing terrorism as an excuse to violate the constitutional rights of Japanese and the human rights of foreigners entering Japan. As bad as the security in Kansai was, it’s going to be worse at Hokkaido next month, ” Yamamoto said.


8 comments on “Japan Times on dangerous precedents set by G8 Summit security overkill

  • Let the arrests begin!
    8 arrested as 1,500 stage rallies in Tokyo against G-8 summit

    Monday 30th June, 06:55 AM JST
    TOKYO —
    Eight people were arrested Sunday as about 1,500 people staged rallies in two major shopping and business areas of Tokyo to protest against the July 7-9 Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido, police said. The arrests were made during a rally near JR Shibuya Station where about 1,000 activists and others gathered, chanting slogans including ‘‘Smash the summit,’’ police said.

    Some of the protesters clashed with riot police and were arrested for obstructing the officers in the performance of their duty, police said. In Shinjuku Ward, about 500 anti-globalization activists and others staged a separate rally near JR Shinjuku Station, saying there is no need for a summit that brings about environmental destruction and poverty.

  • In Tokyo, subway coin lockers have been sealed shut leaving visitors without a place to store their bags. Also on TV this morning a hotel owner was explaining how his hotel was experiencing 20% decline in occupancy. Apparently the government would not release information about when restrictions on nearby hotels would be in place. As a result many schools and other tour groups decided to not take a chance and stay away.

    Not only are the taxpayers funding this summit, they are also being subject to severe inconveniences and even reduced business. Let’s not forget the “random” ID and bag checks. Is it all worth it?

  • And despite all the hyper than usual hype, we get a disgruntled guy able to plow into City Hall during business hours, with what he thought might be explosive, by the looks of it! And he a local, at that!

    市役所に車、職員らけが 車内にガスボンベ、大阪





  • majimeaussie says:

    The security in Tokyo at the moment seems crazy.

    On Saturday morning I drove a short distance along the Wangan (357) next to the Shuto expressway. At that time the on ramp at Shin Kiba and also the previous one (when heading in to Tokyo) were shut, blocked off by police. There were also police at the exits from the Shutoko and also flashing lights on stopped vehicles along the shutoko. The electronic signs were stating the entrances were closed for security, but no additional details.

    In the afternoon I came in to work for a couple of hours. At that stage the on ramp at Kanda bashi was closed and blocked by police. There were also about 12 police at the off ramp there set up with witches hats (cones) to stop cars and check them. I also saw a policeman stationed on the corner of my block at work and saw police cars and also policemen in pairs patrolling the area.

    I can’t imagine that the security was limited to the areas that I went or what its purpose was. Looking at the news yesterday and today I have also not been able to work out what the purpose of closing the on ramps to the shutoko was (it should be noted that there were still many vehicles driving along the road and the electronic boards to show traffic jams were generally clear).

    Does anyone have any ideas?

    –Er, this Summit is taking place in Hokkaido, right? That’s 800 kms away. So why are ramps on the Tokyo Expressway being blocked, again?

  • Has an itinerary for the G8 been released?
    I figured the whole 3 days would be at Toyako.

    Why the hell so much security in Sapporo? Are the leaders going to enjoy some Susukino soap??
    I doubt there will be any foreign protesters here (Sapporo). The police and immigration seem to have taken care of most of them.

  • The Shutoko was closed?! I was half considering getting on my motorbike and having a little ride in the mountains on Saturday.. I would have been ready to chew nails and spit out rust if the coppers had not let me out of the city for that.

  • Turns out, as per NHK’s (General) 2100h broadcast (June 30)) the powers that be are terrified of an attack in the capital while the summit happens up North, similar to July 7 attack in London while Gleneagles was going on. They obviously fear an attack taking place far away to distract from the official agenda. This may account for the overkill in Tokyo, (logically at least?) I wonder was our suicide car bomb attempt guy in Osaka-fu aware of all of this? Or did he just pick a bad day and a bad fuel, kerosene? And has ANY media outlet highlighted the asbestos-leaching shambles-of-a-hotel in-line-of-sight of the breakfast room in Toyako, (for which nobody accepts responsibility for cleaning up)? Green Summit my ass! Another news outlet has already released a draft final declaration…..why not have them just meet by video-conference, and save us ALL a load of hassle?!) Especially the suicide bombers!

    –I second the motion for video conferencing in future. Wot a mess this is turning out to be.

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    I noticed that my local station (Tokorozawa, SW Saitama) has had its garbage bins sealed off in the name of countering terrorism for the summit.
    As I pointed out to my Japanese collegues, “I was under the impression that we are nowhere near Toyako”


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