Protesters calling for an end to the International Monetary Fund hit the streets of Tokyo on Saturday as the last-resort lender held meetings in the Japanese capital.
About 200 demonstrators marched through the city’s upscale Ginza shopping district near the Tokyo International Forum, which is playing host to the IMF and World Bank’s annual meetings which wrap up Sunday.
Some protesters also called on Japan to abandon nuclear power in the wake of last year’s Fukushima crisis, the worst atomic accident in a generation.
Inside the hall, finance chiefs from the IMF’s 188 member countries and representatives from non-governmental organisations gathered for meetings, with a heavy police presence on the streets outside.
“No more IMFs. Power to the people,” demonstrators yelled as they marched with anti-IMF banners.
The demonstration in conservative Japan was tiny compared with earlier anti-globalisation protests at meetings of the IMF, World Bank and organisations such as the World Trade Organization.
“We want to tell the world that there still are a certain number of people joining the global anti-IMF movement,” said organiser Goro Fujita.
Brazilian activist Diana Aguiar, who was in town for the protest, described the IMF as a “failed institution” whose policies have not succeeded in lifting many countries out of poverty.
“Things have to change and not go back to business as usual,” she said.
Some critics of the IMF – which provides loans and technical assistance to members – have called for the speedier implementation of planned reforms that give emerging nations a greater say in its affairs.
They have also decried the Fund’s focus on quelling Europe’s debt crisis as poorer nations suffer from surging food prices.