Why Black Lives Matter Protests Have Reached Japan

black lives

People in Japan have joined the growing number of global supporters of Black Lives Matter and those who condemn police brutality over the weekend.

Shibuya, Tokyo’s fashion capital, saw two protests emerge on its streets last Saturday: one for Black Lives Matter and another for a Kurdish man allegedly abused by local police.

The man, a 33-year-old Turkish national, allegedly overtook a patrol car along downtown Tokyo on May 22. He allegedly declined to show his driver’s license and attempted to flee.

The police managed to stop him, but he allegedly refused a car search. He was then forced to kneel to avoid any “accident” amid the road traffic, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

Image Screenshot via Reuters

A friend who remained in the man’s car managed to film what happened next. In the video, two officers can be seen yelling at the man.

One kicked him in the leg before using his arms to lock his neck. Shortly after, the other officer noticed that the scene was being recorded.

“I couldn’t breathe. If my friend hadn’t been filming I don’t know what would have happened,” the man told Reuters.

The man has lived in Japan for 15 years. He was supposed to go to the dentist at the time of the encounter.

 

Sustaining bruises on his neck and back, the Kurdish man eventually filed an assault case against two officers on May 27. However, he did not attend Saturday’s protest over fears of being arrested.

Nevertheless, more than 500 people reportedly attended the protest for him. An initial protest on his behalf also took place on May 30, which he attended.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s protest for Black Lives Matter took place near the statue of Hachiko. Participants acknowledged that racism exists in Japan, but people are simply denying it.

“We all know what’s happening in the U.S.,” said Nami Nanami, according to The Japan Times. “The same thing is happening in Japan but nobody is talking about it.”

On the same day, a third protest occurred in front of Twitter Japan’s headquarters, which was also in Tokyo.

Activists from this group reportedly allege that Twitter Japan has been allowing far-right accounts to thrive on its platform while silencing left-wing accounts.

Protests continued on Sunday in Osaka, where some 1,000 people from the Kansai chapter of Black Lives Matter showed up.

On Tuesday, public broadcaster NHK faced backlash over an animated video that attempted to explain the ongoing protests in the U.S. due to its failure to illustrate the actual problem: racism.

The video instead focused on economic grievances, and to make matters worse, featured racist stereotypes of Black people.

“Due to criticism from viewers that the animation did not accurately describe the actual problem, we have removed the video. We apologize for the lack of consideration and any unpleasant feeling it created,” NHK said, according to Kyodo News.

 

Joseph M. Young, the interim head of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, commented on the matter.

“While we understand @NHK’s intent to address complex racial issues in the United States, it’s unfortunate that more thought and care didn’t go into this video. The caricatures used are offensive and insensitive.”

Another BLM protest will take place in Tokyo on June 14.

Feature Image Screenshots via COMICS PLUS! by Akasan

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