- Title: JAPAN: Japan tightens security ahead of G8 leaders summit
- Date: 4th July 2008
- Summary: (ASIA) SAPPORO, JAPAN (JULY 4, 2008) (REUTERS)] HENRY SARAGIH SITTING BEFORE A BANNER FOR A NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (English) HENRY SARAGIH, GENERAL COORDINATOR OF LA VIA CAMPESINA SAYING: "I think it is the government to make the limitation for farmers to express our positions and to hold discussions, participating for theconference."
- Embargoed: 19th July 2008 13:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Reuters ID: LVA8RVRKL68515NCV298HA1BM4TC
- Story Text: Twenty anti-G8 Koreans are detained as security is tightened in Sapporo ahead of Group of Eight leaders' summit.
Twenty Korean nationals who planned to attend an NGO meeting were detained on the northern island of Hokkaido on Friday (July 4) as Japan tightens its security days ahead of the G8 summit and in further signs of growing security jitters from the host nation ahead of a G8 summit.
Police in Sapporo, the island's capital, conducted a security training exercise on Friday morning, stopping traffic and people as VIP black cars passed through the central streets of the city.
The security budget is some 30 billion yen ($280 million), topping the 113 million euros ($180 million) spent at the last summit in Germany.
Japan, fearful of violence during the July 7-9 G8 summit, has deployed 21,000 police officers on the northern island of Hokkaido, where the meeting will be held.
All this security has baffled Sapporo residents who nevertheless were sympathetic to the security concerns.
Japan has so far detained and questioned around 40 people, including journalists and academics, although many have been allowed to enter the country after several hours.
Some of the South Korean activist farmers, who also belong to the international Via Campesina peasant movement, have been arrested in the past and participated in protests against the World Trade Organisation in Hong Kong in 2005, representatives of the groups said.
Immigration officials in Sapporo were not immediately available for comment. Officials have previously confirmed that some people had been detained but declined to comment further.
Other activists detained and questioned by immigration include political scientist Susan George, a vocal critic of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and Lydinyda Nacpil, the Asia-Pacific coordinator for Jubilee South, an advocacy group calling for debt cancellation for poor countries.
Two other South Korean nationals, one affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, have been deported, Japan's G8 Media Network has said.
Demonstrations are anticipated near the summit venue -- where some 1,000-plus protesters are expected to gather in three camp sites -- and organisers of a peace rally in Sapporo ahead of the summit hope to draw 10,000 participants.
Activists who has been camping in Tobetsu, a remote village near Sapporo, in preparation of massive demonstrations this weekend, say the increased security is an excessive response.
Anti-G8 protests have become a fixture of G8 summits. On Sunday, two rallies in Tokyo gathered over 1,000 people, including anti-capitalists, labour union members and protesters from abroad, such as Spain and South Korea. Eight men were arrested after scuffling with police at one of the rallies.
But tight security and the sheer cost of travelling to the remote site of the summit, at a hilltop luxury hotel in rural Hokkaido, is expected to dampen turnout compared with previous summits.
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