Amid the threat of rain Saturday, 16 Extinction Rebellion protesters gathered in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park to call for action on climate change.
The protest follows a climate march in Tokyo in September that attracted 2,800 students and environmental activists.
“We hope the protest raises awareness of the climate crisis among Japanese people,” said organizer Yoshiko Ichikawa, 30. “We want (the government) to stop funding things like coal, to stop spending money on something that’s destroying all the lives on this planet.”
With banners and flags decorated with the Extinction Rebellion hourglass symbol, the protesters staged a “die-in” at the entrance of Yoyogi Park, demanding the government create a legally binding policy to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.
The protest was initially planned for Oct. 12 but was postponed due to Typhoon Hagibis, which made landfall that day. A separate Extinction Rebellion protest took place as planned in Kego Park in the city of Fukuoka.
Extinction Rebellion began in the U.K. in October 2018, with the goal of putting pressure on governments to take action to tackle climate change. The group has called for two weeks of international action from Oct. 7 to Monday, and its members have organized protests in 60 cities across the world.
In the U.K., protests have resulted in thousands of people shutting down parts of central London such as Westminster and Trafalgar Square, leading to a city-wide ban being imposed on the organization by the London Metropolitan Police. More than 1,600 protestors have been arrested since Oct. 7, reflecting one of the group’s main tactics to draw public attention to its activities.
Extinction Rebellion Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park location is far less conspicuous than those protests in London, but organizer Ichikawa says the park was chosen due to the group’s current small size and Japan’s harsher arrest laws.
“We’re not big enough yet to hold somewhere like Shibuya crossing,” said Ichikawa.
“When you localize something from abroad you have to be aware of the country’s laws. The treatment you get in London is quite different from what you’d face in Japan, and I don’t think we want to risk that now, here.”
Despite protesting peacefully, the group were asked to leave Yoyogi Park by authorities within an hour of starting.
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