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April 28 Okinawa Day / Militant Demonstration Sweeps Shibuya

“Smash the Security Treaty, stop the genocide!”

On April 28, the 72th anniversary of the effective date of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which put Okinawa under the US military rule, a militant demonstration organized by the Grand March Against Constitutional Revision and War with 800 participants swept Shibuya, Tokyo’s center of youth culture. On the forefront, students from Zengakuren with white hardhats marched arm in arm chanting, “Stop the war! Down with Kishida!”, “Smash the Security Treaty! Remove the military bases!,” “Solidarity with Palestine! Stop the genocide!” Their contingent pushed back the riot police’s violent crackdown, which attracted enthusiastic attention of young crowd and many foreigners on the street who chanted together with huge applause.

Prior to the demonstration, a rally was held at Yoyogi Park (Shibuya Ward, Tokyo) from 1pm, under the slogan “Stop the US-Japan aggressive war against China! Don’t turn Okinawa into a military fortress!” In his opening remarks, lawyer Fumito Morikawa appealed, “Let’s demonstrate our power to prevent war with today’s march!” Next, the president of Zengakuren Chiaki Akamine (Okinawa University) gave the keynote speech, passionately urging, “Let’s stand in solidarity with the rising angry Okinawans and organize an explosive struggle against the Security Treaty and Okinawa struggle! that will run through the mainland and Okinawa!” and “Stop the US-Japan aggressive war against China! Crush the US-Japan Security Treaty = war alliance! Let’s make today’s struggle the starting point!”

A message from Masaaki Osaka who has been detained at Tokyo Detention Center on framed up charge of killing a policeman during the demonstration against the Okinawa Reversion Agreement on November 14, 1971, was read by a student from Zengakuren, and a student from Hiroshima University made an appeal to fight back the draconian crackdown against the August 6 Atomic Bombing anniversary rally last year on a charge of violation of the Act on Punishment of Physical Violence and Others (Boshoho), which was legislated in 1926.
A student who was unjustly arrested during last year’s protest at the Israeli Embassy called for further mobilization in the Palestine solidarity struggle.
Hitoshi Nakamura, vice president of Japan Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba (Doro Chiba), reported on the protest against the union busting against the Minato Godo Shoichi Metals branch, and made clear the labor union’s determination to continue its refusal to cooperate with war. Furthermore, there were speeches from municipal workers who fight against the revision of the Local Autonomy Law and young workers, Ito Nobuharu from the Sanrizuka Shibayama Joint Airport Opposition League, Tomoko Horaguchi, a Suginami Ward council member, and the Kanagawa and Saitama Grand Marches to Stop Constitutional Revision and War. Finally, appeals from Zengakuren were given by three students ,including two new students, and the whole audience responded with thunderous applause to the passionate appeals for an anti-war movement.

Huge response after being shared worldwide on social media

The images of Zengakuren’s white hardhats marching, thundering, and putting their bodies on the line against the violent riot police, have been shared domestically and internationally on social media, causing a huge response. X (formerly Twitter), which posted a video of the demonstration with an English caption, received more than 28,000 likes in two days. Student groups that organize Palestine solidarity actions at universities across the United States, also introduced the video as “Tokyo students resisting riot police,” and it was also featured on the official Instagram account of a major Arab media outlet. Both posts received over 10,000 likes in one day, and support and sympathy were received across borders for the militant anti-war demonstration that swept through Shibuya.

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