G8 @ Hokkaido: Anti-Globalization Gets There Early

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 6/30/2008 12:23:00 AM
What's the difference between a football hooligan and an anti-globalization protester? The former probably get more TV coverage. Last year, the annual G8 summit was held at Heiligendamm, Germany. As you would expect, the anti-globalization crowd was out in force then. This year, it seems that the battle lines are forming early as the anti-globalization has already begun to mass for the meetings from 7-9 July in Hokkaido, Japan. While I have no real qualms about the principal complaint of the anti-globalization crowd--global governance as decided by a select group of developed nations does not represent the interests of much of the rest of the world--I honestly see no method to the anti-globalization madness. Have years and years of such protests resulted in significant changes in the structure of international organizations or policy making? It's hard to argue in the affirmative. So many years later, it's the same old, same old.

To be sure, smaller crowds are expected this year compared to the estimated 30,000 who were in Germany for last year's G8. Whether a similar level of carnage will result remains to be seen. Regardless, I think a less confrontational approach would be more effective than the usual anti-globalization hooliganism. Reflecting the increasing marginalization of the anti-globalization movement, there wasn't even a World Social Forum meeting held this year. Hooliganism may make for fleeting TV coverage of foolhardy folks getting gassed, hosed, or arrested, but there is little to show for beyond such acts. Face it: anti-globalization is getting pretty lame. From Reuters:
Anti-G8 summit protesters danced to blaring music and marched down the streets of Tokyo in heavy rain on Sunday, accusing the Group of Eight rich nations of causing poverty and world instability.

The protests, which have become a fixture at Group of Eight summits, came as Japan tightened security ahead of this year's July 7-9 gathering in Hokkaido, northern Japan.

Two separate rallies in the nation's capital gathered over 1,000 people, including anti-capitalists, labour union members and protesters from abroad, such as Spain and South Korea.

Security was heavy with hundreds of anti-riot police guarding the streets as protesters walked down Tokyo's central shopping districts, carrying signs proclaiming various agendas such as "shut down G8 summit" and "G8=hunger".

Some protesters scuffled with the police. Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi said two people were arrested. Police could not confirm the report.

"Issues like environmental destruction and poverty in Africa, these are all caused by the G8 governments," said Yu Ando, a 31-year-old working for a municipal government in western Japan.

"I can't stand that they are proclaiming to solve these issues."

For the summit at Lake Toya, about 760 km (470 miles) north of Tokyo, domestic and international NGOs such as Oxfam plan to protest a range of topics including globalisation, the food crisis and wars.

Protests are expected near the summit venue -- where protesters are expected to gather at three camp sites -- as well as in Tokyo and Sapporo, capital of Hokkaido.

But tight security and the sheer cost of travel to the vicinity of the remote summit site could dampen turnout.

Human rights lawyers have said Japanese immigration authorities are making it tough for some activists to get visas by complicating the application process, and media reports said some activists were detained for hours at immigration.

At last year's G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, an estimated 30,000 protesters flocked to the area and entered a restricted zone set up for the summit, as well as blocking land routes into the area.