The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, was captured on video and circulated widely, sparking protests not only across the United States but in more than 50 countries across the globe, with demonstrators calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism.

Check out this interactive map of anti-racism solidarity protests around the world.

Osaka Stands in Solidarity

Image used with permission from Alma Ana Maia (Instagram @almajiro__)

On Sunday, June 7, 2020, a demonstration organized by the Kansai Black Lives Matter branch drew a crowd of over 1,000 people.

Japanese and foreigners alike came out to show their support for the movement sweeping across the world. Protestors marched peacefully from Osaka City Hall to Nishiumeda Park chanting “Black Lives Matter,” and lead to an 8-minute-long moment of silence for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.

Organizing a successful and peaceful protest can be difficult. And in Japan, foreigners do not actually have the legal right to protest. The event’s organizers were clear that this was a “peaceful march” not intended to spread political agendas or initiate violence, but to educate and inform people about the BLM movement.

Image used with permission from Alma Ana Maia (Instagram @almajiro__)

While many protests do result in confrontations with police and can end violently with many arrests, this even was truly peaceful. Police escorted participants along the 2-kilometer track, directing them through traffic.

Miyuki (@safeasmilk15) tweeted the video below saying, “This many people are raising their voices in Osaka. Peacefully!”

Interview with a BLM Organizer

The demonstration originally expected a turnout of about 200, said Brianna Slaughter, an organizer of the BLM Kansai chapter. But after many people, including Osaka Naomi, showed their support on social media, that number increased tenfold. They continued to say:

“Our march was completely peaceful and many were able to gain a new perspective on the BLM movement now that it was right in front of them. The feedback received by Japanese people and foreign residents who attended the march were heart-warming and gave me hope for the future.”

Brianna stated that BLM aims to educate Japanese people about what it stands for, raise awareness on police brutality experienced by Black people, and the lives tragically lost. They hope to make life in Japan easier for themselves and other Black people so they need not fear being judged about the color of their skin.

Image used with permission from Alma Ana Maia (Instagram @almajiro__)

When asked about racism in Japan, Brianna answered:

“Japan has its own troubles with racism against Black people through the media and lack of representation of Black people and Black voices. Japan is a globalized nation and has been for a very long time. However, this is not translated by the way Japanese society is unaware of Black issues both in Japan and in the West. The fetishization of Black people and harmful Black stereotypes play a role in how Black people are perceived by Japanese society. This, in turn, is harmful to Black ex-pats and students who would like to earn a career, earn an education, get an apartment, eat in a restaurant, date publicly, and live in Japan long-term. While we are not likely to get murdered by the police, harassment as well as assault because of the color of my skin is something to be wary of.”

What Can You Do to Help?

Some may feel that it’s difficult to get involved here in Japan, but that’s not true.

You can educate yourself about racism and inequality, sign petitions, donate to a cause, and even get involved in demonstrations (while continuing to follow precautions to reduce spreading Covid-19).

Black Lives Matter Tokyo will hold a Peaceful March on Sunday, June 14th from 2:45 p.m. at the Yoyogi Event Plaza. Organizers ask participants to be mindful of the current pandemic by wearing a mask and refrain from attending if they are at risk of infecting others.

Click here for more information about the event.

By - Mujo.