Activists in Japan join the global Black Lives Matter movement
People gather to protest during a solidarity rally, June 6, 2020, in Tokyo. | Eugene Hoshiko / AP

TOKYO—In response to the Black Lives Matter movement spreading from the United States to the rest of the world, several rounds of anti-racism demonstrations in Tokyo and Osaka have seen massive turnout—even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

On June 7, the chant “Black Lives Matter” echoed throughout downtown Osaka City. The rally was called for on social media by a group of Black women living in Osaka.

Organized via social media, the rally saw people of various nationalities and backgrounds assemble in a square near the Osaka City Hall. Protesters carried signs which read, “Against Racism,” “Silence is a Crime,” and “Justice for All,” while marching through downtown Osaka.

In solidarity: June 6, 2020, Tokyo. | Eugene Hoshiko / AP

They prayed in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to remember George Floyd, the unarmed African-American man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. An organizer in her 30s called to the crowd, “We must say no to racism. Unless we continually say no, discrimination will not disappear. Can you keep saying no?” Clapping and shouting rose from protesters in response to her challenge. Each time a crowd of demonstrators arrived at the endpoint, the others welcomed them with cheers and applause to promote solidarity.

In Tokyo’s Shibuya District on June 6, many people holding up placards reading, “No Justice, No Peace,” demonstrated together. Participation by young generations and by people from various countries stood out.

A 34-year-old man said, “I think racism is not someone else’s problem, as hate speech against Korean residents is a serious problem in Japan, and so I came here.” Hirano Taichi, who called for protests, said that learning from his friend in the United States about the history of discrimination against African Americans, he came to feel that he had to raise his own voice in protest.

On June 5 near Tokyo Station, a silent standing protest was organized by a citizens’ volunteer group against hate speech.

A group member said that she wants to express her solidarity with the U.S. movement and that structural discrimination also exists in Japan. She added, “I want to act to share the message with many people that all forms of discrimination are unacceptable.”


Shimbun Akahata
Shimbun Akahata

Shimbun Akahata (しんぶん赤旗) is the daily newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party.