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Japanese youth demand action on global warming in 'shoe protest' outside Diet

On Sept. 25, 2020, shoes and signs are seen lined up outside the National Diet Building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward as part of a "climate action shoe protest" demanding stronger global warming countermeasures. (Mainichi/Yuki Miyatake)

TOKYO -- A group of young activists held a climate protest and spread out some 100 pairs of shoes on a sidewalk outside Japan's National Diet Building on the evening of Sept. 25 along with messages demanding stronger global warming countermeasures.

    As protesters were unable to gather in groups for a street march this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, they demonstrated their commitment by lining up sneakers, sandals, pumps and other footwear on the sidewalk -- to show that even though they were not physically present, they were taking a stand on climate change. Signs with messages such as "We are running out of time" and "No to coal" were left with the shoes in front of the National Diet in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward.

    The protest was part of simultaneous youth demonstrations held around the world on the "Global Day of Climate Action." Members of the organization Fridays For Future Japan held "climate action shoe protests" and other activities in 30 prefectures across Japan, including Tokyo and Kanagawa, south of the capital, as well as Aichi and Niigata in central Japan. The group also posted pictures of the shoes and messages on Twitter and other social media.

    "Revolutionary change has been happening around the world, but Japan is still taking small steps," said Mutsumi Kurobe, 19, a first-year student at the Kunitachi College of Music who joined the protest outside the National Diet. "I would like to continue speaking out on the significance of making progress in climate change countermeasures, even during this coronavirus pandemic."

    The FridaysForFuture student strike movement, in which young people skip class to protest in the streets, spread throughout the world after now 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg began holding one-person demonstrations on her own every Friday in Stockholm.

    (Japanese original by Mayumi Nobuta, Science & Environment News Department)

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