Forty thousand take to Tokyo streets to say 'no' to war

First casualties of war delivered to Australian Prime Minister in New Zealand

Press release - 8 March, 2003

Citizens and students gathered and paraded through the city centre of Tokyo as part of the World Peace Now rally, organized by 47 non-government organizations, including Greenpeace.

Today, more than 40,000 people took to the streets of Japan to join the global protests against the impending US-led war against Iraq. Citizens and students gathered at Hibiya Park, Tokyo, and paraded through the city centre as part of the World Peace Now rally, organized by 47 non-government organisations, including Greenpeace.

"We're here today to join the millions of global citizens who are saying 'no' to war. We're calling on all the world's governments, including Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Affairs Minister Kawaguchi, to listen to the voice of the people, to stand by democracy and stop supporting the Bush Administration's march to war," said Mikiko Fukuda, campaign director of Greenpeace in Japan.

80% of Japanese people are opposed to a war against Iraq (1) and more than 10 million people around the world have voiced their opposition to war over the past few weeks. Even so, only three days ago, Prime Minister Junichi Koizumi dismissed public opinion as being "not always right" and he continues to support US President Bush's intention to wage war.

Many of the protestors today carried placards made from adverts placed in one of Japan's leading newspapers by Greenpeace. During the protests, the crowds vowed to send letters to Koizumi and Kawaguchi calling on them to stop supporting the Bush's call for war.

"Since we advertised the rally on 3 March, Greenpeace has been overwhelmed by thousands of responses from people wanting to join us in speaking out against this war and today, more than 1,000 people showed their support by bringing their own placards," added Fukuda.

"This level of public protest has not been seen in Japan since Chelnoviri's time in 1986. Decades of erosion of civil rights in this country have made many people feel apathetic about public demonstrations. The turn out today shows how strongly people oppose this war. It is a landmark in Japanese history," she concluded.

Earlier today in New Zealand, Greenpeace delivered the first casualties of war, 'innocent people', 'public opinion' and 'international law', in body bags to the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, who is currently in Auckland to officially open the Australian Consulate.

"In backing the US push for war, Howard is dismissing public opposition to war just as Koizumi is," said Greenpeace campaigner, Robbie Kelman. "They and all other governments of the world should be working within the UN to ensure Iraq is disarmed peacefully through the weapons inspection process," said Kelman.

Notes: (1) Opinion poll conducted by ANN, February 22nd and 23rd, 2003.