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Japanese island locks down for summit PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joachim Willms [Managing Director]   
Japanese island locks down for summit
By Chris Hogg - BBC News, Hokkaido

Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido is where stressed Tokyo-dwellers escape as the temperature climbs.

It is green, it is lush, a cool breeze blows through the trees on the side of the mountains here.

But you are more likely to find a policeman in full riot gear than a holiday-maker here at the moment.

Twenty one thousand officers are on duty.

Near the summit venue they stand sweltering in the heat on the side of the road, ready to swing into action at the first sign of any trouble.

So far they have not had to do much more than remind errant journalists to wait for the green man to appear before they cross the road.

My business is bound to benefit, being so close to all those thirsty journalists Tomoki Maeda, manager of local pub

In the village of Toya, at the foot of the hill where the leaders are ensconced, taxi driver Kazuko Omori waits in vain for a fare outside the station, the village streets deserted, apart from the odd plainclothes policeman.

"Business is down," she says.

"School trips have been cancelled. I was hoping that the summit would bring in more tourists. I'm still hopeful, but so far there's no sign of it."

Tomoki Maeda, who runs a Japanese pub near where the media are billeted, is more upbeat.

"My business is bound to benefit, being so close to all those thirsty journalists," he says.

"I want the leaders to talk about the environment. I can see the effects of climate change here with my own eyes. For example, sometimes these days we don't get the snow we're expecting."

Those protestors who have made it all this way up to Hokkaido complain they have found themselves tailed by police constantly, their complaint being "Surely they've got better things to spend their money on than all this security".

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/07/06 12:43:35 GMT

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