|Osaka, Japan: Declaration of Protest Against the Evictions|
*Declaration of Protest Against the Evictions of Park Squatters in Utsubo and Osaka-jo Park*
On January 30th, 2006, mobilizing nearly 700 city employees, guardsmen and police against around 20 squatters in Utsubo Park and Osaka-jo Park, Osaka city forced through its eviction through so-called ‘administrative action’.
In the process of eviction, one person was illegitimately arrested on suspicion of ‘assault’, three were taken away in ambulances (of which one was a guardsmen with a broken bone that should take a month to heal), with many suffering contusions and other wounds. Until the last, our comrades who tried to defend their own tents and huts were pulled out as the city refused all discussion, and surrounded just steps away as their homes were shredded and smashed, forced to witness the eviction of all their belongings.
With rage in our hearts, we denounce this city’s inhuman violence.
No excuse can permit the abduction of our squatter comrades from their homes, in the brutal cold, and their dispossession onto the streets. In a city where 200 people die yearly on the streets, when will Osaka city be satisfied in its expulsion of our comrades?
For the squatters of Utsubo and Osaka-jo, Osaka city had disregarded all attempts to negotiate and ignored every word, jumping into the eviction process. The ‘alternative policies’ trotted out amidst the evictions were the Osaka-jo park shelter and the ‘Aid for Independence’ center, both of which kick their tenants out after a period of a few months, and are institutions designed to force people into a precarious, homeless life. As soon as one checks in and takes down one’s tent, a person is forced to sign a document swearing that ‘I will not squat again’.
While an occupant, there is no guarantee of finding work. With the handicaps of old age and an institutional address, the individual passes through the employment offices and for those who cannot find work they are labeled as having insufficient drive to ‘help themselves’ and are once again thrown into the streets. One meal a day, and a 3 meter square space to move around in, etc. along with a poor living environment, it is clear that these institutions are only ‘excuses for eviction’.
Knowing this intimately, the great majority of squatters reject the ‘persuasion consultations’ of the city’s administrators for internment, and along with protesting against this eviction, have demanded to the city a radical shift in unemployment and welfare policy, one executed without prejudice. The appeal: ‘Don’t destroy our tents’ will certainly be broadcast in the media as a sort of ‘selfishness’ which it definitely is not, on the contrary these are calls for the most basic essentials of living.
Disregarding even the January 27th court decision which ruled that a park occupant could legally register his address as his own, Osaka city pressed on with the eviction, against which an appeal lawsuit was launched the same day. Without a radical shift in policy, the evictions will continue, and if the justification for living in a tent is not recognized, what could possibly result but more deaths on the roadside?
To begin with, who the hell are these ‘World Roses Fair’ and ‘City Greening Fair’ (in which a massive amount of money has been sunk) even for? After the preparations for eviction begun on January 11th, and the truth had come out about a corruption scandal involving the Yutoritomidori tourism promotion office, four members of the section chief’s staff were arrested. This office, drenched in dirty politics, has no justification for trampling on the lives of squatters.
The city’s actions were in the end, not about the 20 people who fought to the end to protect their tents. Originally there were 40 in Utsubo park and nearly 700 at Osaka-jo; for these comrades the process of escalation in the three years since the building of the shelter is in part the reality of facing death on the streets. It is with their pain in our hearts that, at this struggle, had Osaka city been permitted to carry out its agenda, the 10,000 precarious comrades across the city would have been pushed farther and farther into the eviction crisis; and therefore, for the 30,000 comrades across the country, the twenty of Utsubo park as well as comrades converged from across the country fought until the end.
It was not just our comrades at the site of the struggle. Against the violence of Osaka city, as protests gathered across the countries and around the world, voices of encouragement reached us. With the city’s eviction as an opportunity to come together, if anything our links came out stronger.
Disregarding the overwhelming accumulation of personnel and equipment
from the city, more than 100 people gathered in the early morning (and
some the night earlier) to contest the 8 a.m. attack, and after six
hours of standing against the city and overturning entirely the city’s
plans of attack, the savagery of the city was unleashed for all to see.
This thirty day fight was possible because of our comrade’s care, the assistance of many people and our solidarity. We could not stop the evictions, but we certainly did not lose! (Translator’s note: the massive money, equipment and personnel expenditure required for Osaka’s January 30th attack against autonomous tent villages across the city was so colossal that even the conservative Sankei Shinbun the next day was calling the city out, not for its violence and instrumental violence of course, but for the cost of the policies!)
Osaka city has not learned a thing from this incident. Side by side with its eviction of Utsubo park it attacked simultaneously four tents set up at Ogimachi park for comrades made homeless from Utsubo, retributively smashed a tent of a comrade participating in the actions against the eviction in Nishi Umeda Park and established a perimeter fence in Nishinari Kouen, from where many comrades had come to help those at Utsubo.
Comrades who arrived at Utsubo Park’s north administration office on the 31st to protest the eviction and demand their valuables were not allowed in, turned away and then met with violence. The same day, the southern administrative office of Nagai Kouen (in Osaka’s south) surrounded about 30 tent dwellers with eight cars and tried to destroy tents set up to receive the dispossessed from Utsubo park.
On the first of February, the tourism promotion office continued their prejudicial and targeting of squatters by issuing a document explaining the evictions, claiming that ‘the tents and huts are not only harming the scenery, but having a bad influence on the greenery and flowers; drunk and disorderly squatters bring a bad and unsafe atmosphere to surrounding citizens’.
Again, without touching on any of the violence executed by the employees of the state or the guardsmen, the administration erected a fence late at night the previous day, and in the midst of a protest against the men trying to carry out the construction, one person was injured. The administration takes this up and says ‘there is no way that violence can be permitted’ etc. and cries as if it is the victim.
Osaka city, please, isn’t it your murderous policies that are the most violent of all?
It makes us want to scream ‘Enough!’.
We will not allow this to continue unabated.
We demand that Osaka city halts its evictions and murders.
As long as this situation continues, and in order to protect the lives and living standards of our comrades we communicate here that we will carry on resisting.
Unemployment and squatting steering committee
（Kamagasaki no Kai e-mail address）
Osaka-shi Nishinari-ku Taishi２−１−２ Care of: Kamagasaki Iryou Renraku Kaigi
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