(AFP) Thousands of farmers and activists from around the world demonstrated Saturday in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo ahead of next week's summit of the Group of Eight rich nations.

Japan mobilised thousands of riot police to prevent any violence on the streets of Sapporo, the closest major city to the lakeside resort of Toyako, where world leaders will meet from Monday.

Dozens of masked protesters marching to rock music were warned by police against entering restricted areas as Japanese organisers of the rally called on the demonstrators to avoid violence and clashes with police.

Activists from charity Oxfam International warned of the impact of soaring food prices and climate change on world poverty as they performed their customary skit mocking the eight world leaders including Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and US President George W. Bush.

Wearing traditional Japanese kimonos, they sang a karaoke version of the ABBA song "Money, Money, Money."

"This isn't the time for a holiday, this is the time for sorting out problems," said Lucy Brinicombe of Oxfam International. "They shouldn't be distracted from finding solutions for the food crisis and climate change."

Global food prices have nearly doubled in three years, according to the World Bank, setting off riots in parts of the developing world.

Leaders of the eight major industrial powers -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- are reportedly set to agree on a new system of "food reserves" to assist hungry nations.

AFP has more details here.

(with wire reports)

This video is from CNN.com, broadcast July 6, 2008.

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