We joined the G-8 protests in Hokkaido, Japan last from July 6-9. We survived four days of gruelling marches in the countryside, continuous surveillance from the police and many other restrictions from the Japan police. There were delegates from the Philippines, United States, Korea and Taiwan. Several Korean delegates were prevented from entering Japan.
Upon arrival in Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, we were already subjected to surveillance by the police. We were trailed across three cities by agents in civilian clothes. Sometimes we even had two cars following us.
An Agence France Presse report noted that Japan was on lockdown for the G-8.
It wasn’t an exaggeration.
Public places, including train stations and subways were crawling with police. They even banned the use of garbage cans and lockers for fear that these would be used for the planting of explosives.
In Hokkaido, there were police buses on almost every street corner. The police blanket extended to the countryside.
We pitched camp in Date (Da’-te) City, some two hours from Sapporo City. We stayed in a big open field for grazing cattle. We had tents and sleeping bags. There was no electricity in the field. No water sources. Just grass. The only place with electricity and water was this house some 200 meters from where we were staying.
Despite the difficult conditions, we had fun in our camp. The food was ok and quite health in fact. We had discussions, rally preps and sharing of experiences.
We attended a ritual from the Ainu people, an indigenous group fighting for self-determination.
The only amenity we had was a public bath near the camp, one that had hot springs inside. Of course by public bath, it is meant that people tooka bath collectively. Hehe, it was a whole new experience for many of the foreign delegates.
Our day started early. We were at the rally site as early as 7:30 am. Rain or shine, we were determined to push through with the protests.
We were like hotdogs during the march — a long line of protesters sandwiched between two lines of policemen. We moved like a funeral march, excruciatingly slow because the police were the ones dictating the tempo.
For three days we marched in the Hokkaido countryside. The residents warmly welcomed us. It seemed the G-8 wasn’t that popular among the locals, especially the Ainu folks.
We denounced the G-8 for their policies that have resulted in economic ruin for many poor countries. Neo-liberal globalization has allowed oil monopolies to raise prices with impunity. The same policy has destroyed agriculture in countries like the Philippines. The drive for profit has also resulted in greater destruction of the environment. The culprits in global warming are the imperialist powers themselves.
The ILPS and BAYAN flags were raised in Toyako City along side streamers from ANSWER, Labor Rights Alliance in Taiwan and the Asia Wide Campaign of Japan.
Our group of foreign delegates left the camp site satisfied with the work we did. We were all in high spirits.
On our way home, the entire highway going to the airport was closed to the public because it was reserved for G-8 delegates. It took us four hours to travel what used to be just two hours going to Sapporo City. Aaaargh!