On September 22, thousands of people gathered in Tokyo's Shinjuku district to protest discrimination for the March on Tokyo for Freedom. Organized by the same people who stage counter-demonstrations against anti-Korean hate marches in the nearby Shin-Okubo neighborhood, this march was held in honor of the Great March on Washington to protest all discrimination and hate, whether they be based on nationality, race, sex, sexual orientation, physical and mental disabilities, age, etc., etc.
"I am against discrimination"
We Japanese tend to be wary of taking part in social protests. For instance, I'm a middle-aged Japanese guy who reads the papers and never forgets to vote and yet I never even dreamed of getting involved in protests until I learned of the anti-Korean marches being held in Tokyo's Koreatown. My wife is very suspicious of the way I've been spending my weekends in Shin-Okubo and wherever else racists may appear. But on September 22, people from all walks of life came together to march through Shinjuku streets to voice their messages.
"Let's get along/We're already living together"
"I love Seung Heon/I love Korea"
"Let's get along (y'all)"
"Stand Against Racism/The March on Tokyo for Freedom"
"Discrimination comes from the darkness in our hearts"
"No racism/Let's get along"
"We're already living together"
"Make peace not hate"
The march had the young and the old, a band, flag dancers, people on stilts, drag queens. There were rockers, rappers, and DJs. Famous politicians and writers marched along with housewives and office workers. On the streets of Shinjuku that day, diversity was a given. We are, after all, already living together, no matter how many may try to deny it.
The gentleman raising his hand is Taiga Ishikawa, ward assemblyman of the Toshima Ward. He is the first openly gay assemblyman in Japan.
So many marchers showed up that organizers ran out of March on Tokyo pins to pass out.
There was so much hope and optimism while we marched -- so much that I wished the march would go on forever.
"Imagine a peaceful future"