By Takeaki Matsumoto*
HAVANA TIMES – Even in 60 years after his death, Che is still popular** and familiar in Tokyo, Japan. Among others, he can be seen in his torso printed on “Guevara T-shirts” worn by young and old. We usually call him “Gebara” in pronunciation as we have no “v” sound in Japanese.
I’m writing about an event that began a few minutes after noon on Aug.24 in the middle of Tokyo. To be exact, at the checkpoint of the Members’ Office Building of House of Representatives.
One of the five men was blocked by a security guard. They had joined a sit-in protest requesting quick reconvening of the Diet adjourned for nearly four months caused by the COVID-19 and the administration’s reluctance with regard to scandals involving then PM Abe. They were just on the way for lunch to a restaurant in the building.
The guard said, “You are not allowed to enter unless you would turn your T-shirt inside out.” The “T-shirt” was worn by the one of the above-said as he has love and respect of Che.
The guard also referred to the rule saying, “Persons wearing clothes with political messages, one that falls short of impartiality, neutrality and the likes are prohibited from entering.”
Similar situations have often occurred here. Visitors carrying tags and badges with logos or characters on them such as “Item 9” (representing renunciation of armament in the pacifist Constitution), “nuclear power,” “Constitution” or “Okinawa” are blocked and asked to put them inside or remove.
While some feel uncomfortable with those requests, they tend to accept them to abate nuisance to fulfill their initial business.
The gentleman in the T-shirt, however, maintained disobedience to those requests, claiming an infringement of freedom of expression. That touched off quick and critical response among people associated with the civil movement for protecting the constitution.
As of the end of September, some 50 protesters in all spoke four times with the administrative officials of the Members’ Office Building about a possible amendment. Che on a torso is present every time at the meetings between the two parties.
What would Che say should he find himself involved in a civil movement in a far eastern country?
*Freelance documentary director
**As a Japanese, the sentiment of our admiration and respect to Che appears to be associated with his commitment and undaunted dedication to revolution and future in his sight, which somehow parallels the spirit of samurai, bushido in Japanese. What’s in common, and not to be forgotten to those in their seventies (the person concerned is one), appears to be his visit to Hiroshima and anger he laid bare there.