June 26, 2008

Japanese Activists Set Up Campsites to Protest Against July G8 Summit

Text of report in English by Japan's largest news agency Kyodo

Sapporo, June 26 Kyodo - Activists planning to protest against the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido in early July are setting up camp sites that can accommodate a total of 2,000-3,000 people to prepare for large-scale rallies and demonstrations.

At last year's G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, protesters from anti-globalization groups staged rallies during the summit, some of which turned violent and sparked clashes with police.

As the Hokkaido prefectural police focus on the movements of the activists, the protesters themselves are talking with local governments to seek their understanding over the usage of the camp sites, the activists said.

Anti-G8 Summit Hokkaido (Ainu Mosir) Liaison, a network consisting of citizens' groups in Hokkaido and elsewhere, has secured about one hectare of pasture in Date, Hokkaido, which can accommodate about 2,000 people, the group said.

G8 Action Network, which gathers various groups nationwide, said it plans to set up camp at sites in Toyoura and a ski area in Sobetsu that can house 500-1,000 people.

The distance from both sites to the venue of the G-8 summit - the Windsor Hotel Toya at the Lake Toya hot-spa resort area - is about 20 kilometres.

Nongovernmental organizations and civil groups from Japan and abroad are expected to gather and hold rallies and concerts focusing on the environment, human rights and peace, while demonstration marches in the direction of Lake Toya are also scheduled.

Meanwhile, the Sapporo city government will open a camp site in the city that can accommodate 400 people to members of nongovernmental organizations, city officials said.

A Hokkaido prefectural police official said, "It is a major principle to respect legal demonstrations, but we will act in a resolute way to ensure the safety of people in Hokkaido if there are illegal acts."

Originally published by Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 0923 26 Jun 08.

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