Go to contents

Anti-racial discrimination march convenes in Tokyo

Posted September. 23, 2013 05:04,   


“No more discrimination.” “Let’s walk together.”

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, more than 1,000 citizens held a “March on Tokyo,” chanting slogans against racial discrimination at Old Shinjuku Central Park in Shinjuku district in the Japanese capital. They copied the “March on Washington” in 1963, when about 250,000 people led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gathered in the U.S. capital to demand an end to discrimination against blacks.

Among the participants were a senior citizen holding a banner reading “Let’s get along well,” a middle aged man wearing a cap with the South Korean national flag Taegeukgi and the Japanese national flag displayed side by side on it, a participant clad in traditional Korean costume hanbok, and Korean farmers’ music band playing drums and iron drums. As protest rallies for racial discrimination in Japan have focused on Koreans, the message “Let’s get along well with Korea” was frequently spotted at Sunday’s march.

When promoting the event on the Internet, the executive committee on the March in Tokyo urged males to wear black suits and ties, and women formal dress as was the case in the March on Washington. More than 200 people who followed the dress code took the lead in the Tokyo march.

The participants marched together from Central Park to Shinjuku Station in three groups. The music “We Shall Overcome” symbolizing the human rights movement in the U.S., which was played in the Washington march, was performed throughout the rally in Japan. When people who spearheaded the Tokyo march on pickup trucks chanted “End to discrimination” in rap rhythm, all the participants repeated. A samulnori band comprising percussion instruments including iron drums and drums played percussion music to cheer up the mood.

The number of participants at Sunday’s rally, which topped 1,000, was larger than the target (1,000) as set by the executive committee for the event, and far larger than some 100 people who gathered when holding rallies against Korea. Kenji Haginoka, an office worker living in Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture, said, “I watched twice at the scene rallies against Korea in Shinokubo district, and I thought to myself ‘this is not right.’ I have come here to empower those who are opposed to such rallies.” He was holding a sketchbook banner with the slogan “In the friendliest way.”

The number of participants in the march continued to increase over time as pedestrians who initially verbally expressed their support by saying “Go” join the march in person as well. Tobi Hocking, an American and researcher at Tokyo University, said, “I came to Shinjuku for shopping but joined the march because I sympathize with the campaign against discrimination. It is not as serious as toward Koreans but Japan has the practice of discrimination against the U.S. as well.”

The executive committee urged the Japanese government to faithfully implement the U.N. treaty on abolition of racial discrimination, to which Japan is a party.