HALF of Japan’s entire police force is believed to be in Hokkaido ahead of July’s G8 Summit, according to unofficial reports.
Police are tight lipped about exact numbers and details but Niseko’s Hirafu Village is one of many towns across the island hosting police who have been shipped in for the event. Hundreds of officers are staying in upper village hotels, and the Welcome Centre car park (pictured) is temporary home to a small army of police vehicles.
Police presence across the island has been highly visible for a full month before the meeting, the bulk of which occurs between July 7 and 9. Heavily manned checkpoints have been established at key points on roads leading in and out of the Lake Toya area; every foreigner arriving at Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport is being questioned by plain clothes officers; nearby Rusutsu Ski and Golf resort, which is hosting the media contingent, is like a fortress with very restricted entry; riot squads and secret service police and their distinctive vehicles comprise more than half the traffic on roads around Lake Toya.
The Summit is the biggest international event to take place in Hokkaido since the 1972 Winter Olympics.
The leaders of the G8 nations who will be in Hokkaido for the meeting are George Bush, Gordon Brown from the UK, Angela Merkel from Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy from France, Silvio Berlusconi from Italy, Stephen Harper from Canada, Yasuo Fukuda from Japan and Andre Medvedev from Russia. The combined populations of member countries represent 14% of the world’s people, but account for two-thirds of economic output and a majority of military power.
High on the agenda of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit will be issues that impact the global environment. Japan will be building momentum for Cool Earth 50, an initiative aimed at halving global greenhouse emissions by 2050.
Also on the table will be programs to promote further development in Africa, as well as nuclear nonproliferation and world economy issues such as trade, investment and the protection of intellectual property rights.