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4,000 protest against Tokyo Games in 'virtual demonstration' image, video created by artist

An image created by artist Sacco Fujishima showing a "virtual demonstration" to protest against the Tokyo Games is seen. (Image provided by the individual)

TOKYO -- An image and a video showing 4,000 people protesting against holding the Tokyo Games this summer at the Japan National Stadium in the capital's Shinjuku Ward was posted on Twitter by an artist who created the works and called for a "virtual demonstration."

    "I'm scared of the mutant strains, and I don't want (coronavirus infections) to spread, so I'm going to hold a virtual demonstration. I want people's lives and safety to be a priority," read a tweet posted on May 9 by Sacco Fujishima -- a Tokyo-based artist whose works have been used for the front cover of the science magazine "Kagaku" published by Iwanami Shoten and elsewhere.

    She counted the number of retweets as participants of the demonstration, and created their avatars on computer and placed them inside the virtual National Stadium. Though it was painstaking work, she updated the image and video every time a new participant joined, and eventually reached 4,000 protesters.

    Artist Sacco Fujishima is seen in this image provided by the individual.

    Fujishima, who has been calling on holding virtual demonstrations over political issues in the past, said her artwork "is an expression that can deliver visual impact (to the audience) by collecting the voices of people who cannot gather in real life due to restrictions such as the coronavirus pandemic, child rearing and school."

    This time, she also tried showing some of the comments she received from participants above their avatars for the first time. Some of them read, "Vaccines and medical care should be used not for the Olympics but for controlling infections," "There's something more important to a society than the Olympics," and, "Olympics>daily life."

    Fujishima told the Mainichi Shimbun, "I wanted to bundle up and visualize various opinions posted separately on Twitter." As the artist thought there would be people who would like the games to be held once the COVID-19 pandemic calms down, she also wrote on her post calling for protesters to gather, "I would like there to be reconsideration about postponing the games again."

    "I think it's OK to stop and think about whether canceling (the games) is really the best choice. To do so, we would like to know information that can be used for comparison, such as how much in economic losses there would be if the event was held, canceled, or postponed again," Fujishima explained.

    An image created by artist Sacco Fujishima showing a "virtual demonstration" to protest against the Tokyo Games is seen. (Image provided by the individual)

    Meanwhile, amid opposition party questioning in the Diet on May 10, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga merely repeated a prepared answer by saying, "Protecting the lives and health of the people is the basic idea when holding the games."

    Fujishima said, "It doesn't look like sincere communication by a politician chosen by the people. If he wants to make a routine response, wouldn't it be better to have an AI (artificial intelligence) device do that?"

    The artist intends to continue taking action until the Olympics is canceled or postponed again. She added, "I would like to continue to explore various ways of showing and creating works that convey the voices of the people."

    (Japanese original by Hironori Tsuchie, Tokyo City News Department)

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