Japan Times Tokyo Confidential with amusing anecdotes about G8 gifts and local offput business…


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Hi Blog. Some amusing anecdotes on what bennies were on offer for G8 Summit attendees. Some people get all the breaks, it seems.  Not the local businesspeople, however. Debito


TOKYO CONFIDENTIAL:  Japan Times Sunday, July 13, 2008

G8 goes ‘B-class’ as smokers fume

By MARK SCHREIBER, courtesy of the author

After devoting seven pages of punchy news items about the G8 Summit at Toyako in Hokkaido — including a full page concerning the latest gossip about France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla — Shukan Shincho (July 10) provides readers with three pages of amusing tidbits of the kind in which the weekly revels, which is headed “B-class News.”

News photo

One concerns the special souvenir gifts distributed to the foreign-press corps attending the summit.

It seems at the previous summit in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture eight years ago, the government was lambasted for shelling out over ¥60 million on expensive gifts, which included deluxe business bags, IC recorders, stationery, and a limited-edition “Licca-chan” doll dressed as a Ryukyuan folk dancer.

So this time they’re cutting back, with expenditures only about one-fourth that of the Okinawa Summit. Participants will receive a bag embroidered in the style of Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu. In keeping with the conference’s ecological message, press kits handed out to reporters in “eco bags” were made from recycled materials. Other commemorative souvenirs such as furoshiki (a wrapping cloth used for carrying items) and chopsticks were also made from recycled materials.

Perhaps, the magazine remarks, foreign newsmen who recall Japan’s magnanimous generosity at the previous Nago Summit were a bit disappointed this year.

Among the local delicacies the foreign visitors could partake, Shukan Shincho continues, was Mame no Bunshiro Kazuno Natto, a gourmet variety of fermented soybeans, which are typically disdained by many foreigners due to their unfamiliar odor and texture, from Donan Hiratsuka Shokuhin Co. The beans also contain reishi (Ganodermalucidum), an edible fungus that boasts medicinal properties.

“We usually sell it in 50-gram packs, but since that’s too big a portion for the breakfast buffet, we supplied an order for 500 25-gram packs,” says Masao Hiratsuka, the company’s president. “This natto doesn’t smell bad, so foreigners can eat it too.

“We’d be honored if the president and first lady of France, where food culture is highly developed, would deign eat some,” says Hiratsuka.Alors, pourquoi non?

While some local businesses benefited from the onslaught of visitors, rigorous police security appears to have heavily cut into turnover at the area’s love hotels.

“Usually, toward the end of the month our business picks up, but in June, it declined,” the owner of an establishment in the vicinity of Toya Spa tells Shukan Shincho. “On Saturdays and Sundays we’re often fully booked, but customers didn’t materialize then either. Business is off by more than 30 percent.”

“With so many security checkpoints, no wonder people are staying away,” sighs a second hotelier. “When they stop you and ask, ‘Where are you going?’ what can you tell them?”

A detachment of riot police took over an entire no-tell hotel for use as their billet. Up to June 28, the hotel had accepted regular customers in its vacant rooms, but the presence of cops lurking on the premises was a major turnoff.

“Would you go in a love hotel crawling with cops?” one sarcastic blogger posted.

Rest of article at:


1 comment on “Japan Times Tokyo Confidential with amusing anecdotes about G8 gifts and local offput business…

  • At least the Japanese authorities did not react to protesters like this.


    Police and doctors convicted of Genoa G8 brutality avoid jail

    Tuesday July 15, 2008

    Fifteen Italian police officers and doctors sentenced to jail for brutally mistreating detainees after the 2001 G8 riots in Genoa were today celebrating their freedom after it became clear none of them would actually serve prison terms.

    Defendants in Italy do not go to jail for most offences until they have exhausted all the appeals to which they are entitled – normally, at least two. And in this case, it emerged, the convictions and sentences alike would be wiped out by a statute of limitations next year.

    Judges in Genoa announced the convictions late yesterday after 11 hours of closed-doors deliberations. Thirty other defendants were cleared of charges ranging from assault to the denial of basic human rights.

    The court heard detainees testify that they were insulted, kicked, beaten and sprayed with asphyxiating gas in their cells. Some were threatened with anal or vaginal rape. Others were forced to shout out chants in praise of Italy’s late fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini.

    The only real effect of the verdict will be to allow for the victims of the abuses to receive compensation.

    Roberto Castelli, Silvio Berlusconi’s justice minister at the time of the offences, welcomed the outcome of the three-year trial. He said it had “dismantled the theory” that the violence was organised by the then-new government as a way of putting a stop to rioting by anti-globalisation protesters at G8 meetings.

    The leader of the right’s parliamentary group, Fabrizio Cicchito, said: “There was no systematic repression or torture, but there were mistakes by certain members of the forces of law and order.”

    But Paolo Ferrero, a communist minister in the last, centre-left government, called the outcome “scandalous”. He said it was part of an Italian tradition “of not wanting to shed light on events that really happened”.

    Between 100,000 and 200,000 demonstrators converged on Genoa seven years ago to take part in anti-globalisation protests. Most were peaceable, but some were not, and the situation deteriorated as the police employed tactics that many witnesses described as heavy-handed.

    The violence peaked with the death of a 23-year-old Italian demonstrator, shot dead by a conscript carabiniere. More than 250 of those arrested were taken to a holding camp that had been created at Bolzaneto, six miles from Genoa, where the abuses took place.

    The heaviest sentence handed down yesterday, five years, was given to the camp commander, Antonio Biagio Gugliotta. Twelve other police officers, eight men and four women, received jail terms of five to 28 months.

    The chief of medical services at Bolzaneto, Giacomo Toccafondi, was given one year and two months in jail; he was accused of insulting detainees and failing to inform authorities after they were sprayed with asphyxiating gas in cells.

    The detainees at Bolzaneto included about 40 who were arrested in a raid on a school being used as a dormitory. A judge ruled there was no evidence to show any of those demonstrators had been involved in the violence in Genoa.

    One, a Briton, Richard Moth, later told the Guardian that, despite injuries sustained in the raid that had him “screaming with pain”, he was made to stand for hours spread-eagled against a wall.

    The Bolzaneto trial was one of three arising from the Genoa G8 summit. In December 2007, 24 demonstrators were found guilty of damage to property and looting. They were given sentences ranging from five months to 11 years. In the third, ongoing trial, 28 defendants, including some of Italy’s most senior police officers, face charges related to the raid on the school, which left 62 injured, three in comas.


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