TOKYO -- Protesters calling for the Shinjuku Ward Office to withdraw its plan to cut the number of parks that people can use as a starting point for demonstrations gathered near Shinjuku Station on July 31, a day before the new rules went into effect.
The rally was organized by the "Shinjuku Kuritsu Koen o Tsukawasete!" (Please let us use Shinjuku Ward parks!) protest committee. Some 150 participants, including citizens, labor union members and lawyers, began walking from Kashiwagi Park and marched with signs that read, "Defend our right to freedom of expression," "Let us use Shinjuku Ward parks" and other slogans.
The ward office added a new provision to the rules for the use of parks as starting points for protests, designating that only parks "not in proximity to schools, educational facilities and shopping districts" could be used. The new rules ban the use of Kashiwagi Park, Hanazononishi Park and Nishitoyama Park as meeting locations for demonstrators, leaving Shinjuku Chuo Park as the only park in Shinjuku Ward that people are permitted to use as a starting point for demonstrations, from Aug. 1.
Executive director of the committee, Minoru Okamura, 54, commented, "I would like the ward office to respect our right to freedom of expression and let us continue to use these three parks as starting points for protests."
(Japanese original by Koichi Fukuzawa, Tokyo Bureau)