Friday 7th March 1997

On Friday evening, 7 March 1997, the McLibel campaign in Japan moved into high gear... Half a dozen members and supporters of the International Action Committee for Justice for Helen and Dave, including a couple of clowns, gathered in downtown Shibuya, a popular shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo and home to at least six McDonald's outlets. Customers and passers-by eagerly accepted promotional leaflets.

By the time that over 300 flyers had been distributed, McDonald's management got the shakes and called in the local constabulary who intercepted the publicity agents outside store number four. They invited the two clowns to accompany them to a nearby police box for questioning, but failed to apprehend the final helium-filled balloon, which is still believed to be at large in the community.

Committee members and supporters, backed by a growing crowd of bewildered onlookers, converged on the police box where the clowns where being grilled by four policemen, and demanded their immediate release. In response to the commotion, several policemen moved outside in an attempt to intimidate the supporters, verbally abusing one woman and manhandling several other supporters. Although the clowns were released soon after, the struggling outside the police box continued for several minutes. This and other "highlights" of the evening's action were recorded on video by an American committee member.

Overall the action was a great success, attracting much interest and sympathy from passers-by, several who engaged McDonald's staff in one-to-one conversation. It is hoped this will lead to increased awareness in Japan of the issues involved. The committee is planning further protests to coincide with worldwide action following the court's decision in the McLibel trial.