Saturday, June 6, 2015

Activist stage lone protest at first international arms trade fair in Japan held in Yokohama

MAST Asia 2015, the first ever large-scale arms trade exhibition in Japan after the ban on arms export was lifted in 2014, was held in Yokohama on May 13 to 15. Coincidentally, the venue of the fair hosted by a British arms company and sponsored by Japan’s Ministry of Defense, Ministry of ForeIgn Affairs and Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry, Pacifico Yokohama is located close to the park where 30000 people gathered for a rally in defense of the pacifist constitution on May 3. I got to know about the event late and could not prepare well for a protest action. I rushed to the exhibition hall in the afternoon of the 15th anyways to do whatever I could to show objection. Not being involved in defense industry or affiliated with sponsoring government agencies, I was not sure if I could actually go in without advance registration. I was able to go into the venue however without any problem. There were military officers in uniform walking around and active business talks going on over a variety of weapons. After taking a round to have a look at exhibits, I launched protest by putting up a sign that says “No arms exports!” in Japanese and “Stop arms sales!” in English and shouting “Don’t make a profit from weapons for murders!” I was able to continue the action for a while, putting much spirit into it, till I was taken out of the hall by security guards. Thanks to the press release I managed to sent out just before I came to Yokohama, reporters from some domestic and international newspapers and TV stations were there to cover my action. I also gave an interview to a Korean newspaper before I staged the action. (Report by SUGIHARA Koji, member of the Committee for Stop Killing in Gaza) 
 *Photo: Soryu, a state-of-the-art submarine manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 

京の杉原浩司(ガザの人々を殺すな!実行委員会)です。513日から15日まで、パシフィコ横浜(先日開 催された3万人の憲法集会の会場のすぐそば)で開かれた日本初の大規模な武器商談会「mast asia 2015」。イギリスの軍需企業が主催し、防衛省、外務省、経産省が後援する日本政府肝いりのイベントで す。ただ、存在を知ったのが遅かったため、15日の最終日の午後に「とにかく意思表示しなければ」と現 地に向かいました。一般参加は無理と思っていたところ、当日受付でも入場OKとのことで、無事中に入 ることが出来ました。制服の軍人が大手を振って歩き回り、そこかしこで熱心な武器セールスが行われて いました。武器展示を一通りウォッチした後、「武器輸出やめろ」「STOP ARMS SALES」のメッセージボードを掲げ、気合いを入れて抗議アピールをしました。しばらくはそのままでしたが、さすがに複数の警備員さんに押し出されて、会場の外へ。その間、「人殺しの兵器で儲けるな!」などと大声で叫び続けました。直前ではありましたが、プレスリリースも流していたこともあり、その模様は国内外の新聞社やテレビ局が取材されていたようです。なお、抗議する前には韓国の新聞社から動画インタビューも受けました。 
*写 真=三菱重工製の最新鋭潜水艦「そうりゅう」  抗議の写真(神奈川新聞)  写真報告(筆者ブログ)

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