Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong occupied —Beijing worried
Inspired by the global Occupation movement, a group of mostly women protesters from all over Japan are camping in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Tokyo's Kasumigaseki district to oppose nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. The camp, established Oct. 30, also embraces the economic demands of the wider movement. (Panorient News, Nov. 5)
Hundreds of demonstrators in cities and towns across South Korea have held weekly vigils to demand economic relief since the global mobilization of Oct. 15, when protesters attempted to occupy Seoul Plaza, and led police on a chase throughout the city's financial district. Masked protesters held banners reading "Occupy Seoul" and "Tax the Rich 1%—Welfare for the 99%."
North Korea's KCNA news agency gloated that the protests in the South indicate the "pent-up wrath against avaricious big banks and companies that caused economic inequality." (Huffington Post, Oct. 28) (This reminds us of Iran's mullahs cynically cheering the Egyptian protests, only to later cheer on the repression in Syria.)
In Taiwan, where hundreds held an "Occupy Taipei" rally on Oct. 15, farmers organized under the Taiwan Rural Front this week established a protest vigil in the capital to oppose new revisions to the Land Expropriation Act, which broaden the terms under which farmlands can be seized for development projects. (Taipei Times, Nov. 19; Taiwan News, Oct. 17)
Hong Kong protesters have pitched tents outside the Asian headquarters of HSBC Holdings, and pledge to stay. Spokesman Tommy Chan, 21, told Bloomberg the aim is "to raise the awareness in the city toward the unfairness of the existing capitalist system." Hong Kong police said in an e-mailed statement that authorities "respect the rights of individuals to peaceful assemblies and to express their views." Participants, who also embrace the Japanese anti-nuclear demand, include adherents of the organizations Socialist Action, the Community of Workers International, and "Anonomous"—described as "a non-violent decentralized resistance group." (Bloomberg, Nov. 16; Press Enza, Oct. 19)
On mainland China, authorities have again taken pre-emptive electronic action to snuff protest calls. The Beijing government has added to its list of banned terms in web searches. Users of the country's popular microblogging site Sina Weibo will now be blocked from searching for phrases that could be tied to the Occupation movement. The banned search terms include any permutation of the word "Occupy" followed by any of China's cities. For instance, searches for "Occupy Beijing" will come up empty. (Government Computer News, Oct. 24)