International Day of Protest

Report from: Hiroshima, Japan

From: Satomi Oba

Today, at 2:00 p.m.,  we of members of Plutonium Action Hiroshima started action against the US star wars and the US-British bombing in Afghanistan at the A-dome in Hiroshima City.

There were about 15 members (most of them were women), who held a banner, placards, and delivered handouts and postcards for Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair, and our Prime Minister Koizumi.

There were not many passers-by, but we felt a better reaction from them. Some of the visitors to the Dome (and Peace Park) stayed there listening to us carefully. So in the end we see almost 20 people in total. There were not many, but more than we have had in previous street actions by PAH against Cassini and other issues. Among them was a man from Kanagawa, who happened to came to the point. He was an old man who experienced the world war II, and is active in anti-war society around Kanagawa.

There was another person from Tokyo. She knew the action in Hiroshima in the newspaper (the Mainichi), and came to join us. I couldn't understand why she came to Hiroshima from Tokyo, but she told me that she was moved to read an article in the Mainichi Newspaper which announced the Oct. 13 action to be held. So she asked the write the time and place, and came to Hiroshima. I was deeply moved by her participation.

There were young and old people, mother and son, school teachers, or housewives. The media coverage was intense, but no TV camera was there.

We continued speaking and appealing to citizens until at 3:00. I will send you our handouts by fax, and newspaper clipping when it comes out.

As I was very busy during the action, I failed to take pictures, but there was a young photographer who took our pictures. So I hope we will get some.

After the beginning of the bombing in Afghanistan, there have been several demonstration, sit-in, or other actions. But today's action was the first one in Hiroshima, that expressed the Missile Defense and Star Wars program, as well as the military action in Afghanistan. I am not sure if we were successful enough, but was a meaningful one.

Though I was a little afraid that there might be some harassment or hoot against us, there was nothing to bother us. We now are convinced that there are many who take the retaliation war in Afghanistan very serious.

Coming home, I called Ms. Takana in Isahaya and asked their meeting and demonstration in Isahaya City. Isahaya is a small city, smaller than Nagasaki, and is well known to the Japanese people for its strong environmental movement against the government's program of land reclamation by drainage. According to Ms. Takana, twelve people marched for about 30-40 minutes, and 16 got together at the meeting in the city. When they spoke out at some points, local residents seemed to take interest in the first demonstration against Space weponization in the city. She told me that she felt happy to have carried out the action today.

I think she is really amazing to organize such demonstration in a short time. In Japan, it is very hard and rare for ordinary people to speak out on political issues in local area.

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