Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sapporo: July 2nd-4th

At 10 AM on July 2, I met a small group of international activists at Haneda Airport for an 11 AM flight to Sapporo. It was a flight I was sure would get shot down, but none the less, we boarded anyway. A little more than an hour later, the cityscape below turned into beautiful green mountains with occasional snow caps, and we landed into Sapporo. Upon arrival, all 15 of us in the group were stopped by police, who demanded to see our passports, asked what the purpose of our visit was, and record our identifications. Part of our group was a small ad-hoc legal team, so they took pictures of the police officers. Luckily, no one was detained or interrogated further.

We took the train into Sapporo station, and went straight to the convergence center located in a school in Hosui Susukino. It was early, so a few of us went out to find a post office and do a little bit of supply shopping for our stay. This was definitely an interesting city to explore - unlike Tokyo, the climate was dry and hot during the day, cold at night. Unlike Tokyo, we internationals were noticed on the street for being in the area, we may have fit the profile of "terrorist" that locals were told to watch out for.
Later in the evening, there was a welcoming party back at the convergence space with some of the best food and the main organizers from the unions, the legal team, the media centers, and the international panelists. We were treated to a few short film presentations too. The night ended relatively early, as people had to get to their respective housing locations.

July 3 began with a day of more Counter G8 International Forum panel discussions at Hokkaido University. I was able to attend a few sessions, including a panel on "Globalization and Environmental Issues" and "International Solidarity as the Alter-Globalization." After some down time, at night there was a planning meeting for the July 5 day of action, and a "Punks Against G8" show. Some of us went to the meeting, others of us were a little burned out and went straight to the show. I'm sure you can guess which I chose.
There were no fireworks in Sapporo on the 4th of July, but there were more speaking events! I woke up early and Noiz from the Freeter's Union met with me to attend a "rally" called the "Sapporo Action Against Poverty and Unstable Employment" at the G8 action Network solidarity forum. I spoke for only a few minutes, as I was not feeling well. Afterwards, we went to the Tenjin-yama Media Center to shower and screen and speak at the International Precariat Film Festival . Two other films played, one was a very long and heartfelt documentary called "Nogada," about South Korean construction workers, who work in atrocious conditions and have been injured and killed by company thugs when attempting to organize. We had a small and intimate discussion after the films, and the night ended early so that we could all get enough rest for the July 5 "Peace walk."

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