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  • Allegations of more rough stuff from Rightist Zaitokukai against anti-nuclear demos, yet anti-nuclear demonstrators get arrested

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on September 29th, 2011

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    Hi Blog. There have been demonstrations against nuclear power recently in Japan (one in Tokyo that at one estimate attracted 60,000 demonstrators). And of course there have counter-demonstrations against the demonstrations. However, one group, claimed to be Zaitokukai in a video below (with its own history of violent and property-damaging demonstrations) gave exhortations to police to inflict violence on the anti-nuke protesters (if not getting rough with the protesters themselves). Yet as usual the Japanese police do not arrest or hinder the Rightists (examples hereherehere, and within the movie Yasukuni), instead taking action against the Leftists — arresting two in the following video.

    One Japanese woman and one French man. The two arrested offer their account of what happened here:

    FCCJ Press Conference on this issue today, along with an eyewitness account of the demonstration from the H-Japan listserv reproduced below.  Courtesy of NS and others. Arudou Debito

    //////////////////////////////////////

    “Peaceful Rally Ended with Dozens in Handcuffs”

    Time: 2011 Sep 29 15:00 – 16:00
    Summary:
    PRESS CONFERENCE
    Karin Amamiya , Author
    Kojin Karatani, Philosopher
    Eiji Oguma, Keio University Assistant Professor
    Satoshi Ukai , Hitotsubashi University Professor
    Courtesy http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/6921
    Language:
    The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation

    Description:
    Police arrested 12 demonstrators at a peaceful rally in Shinjuku against nuclear power plants on September 11. Five of the 12 are still in police custody, being held without charge. The arrestees included a French national and his Japanese partner.

    Police changed the route for the demonstration just before nearly 10,000 people gathered for the march. During the demonstration, witnesses say the police intentionally divided the protesters into small groups then deliberately provoked sections of the crowd. The incident has barely been reported by the Japanese press, and even some of the few reports that were published alleged misbehavior on the part of the protesters based not on actual observation but entirely on police accounts.

    Some allege that this particular group of protesters have been targeted by police because they are made up primarily of young people rather than the middle-aged and older protesters who turn up at many such events. In other words, the police seem to fear the politicization of the young more than other age groups.

    Are the Japanese police trying to silence political dissent through a systematic campaign of intimidation against the young in particular? Are the democratic rights to protest being observed in practice by those who claim to be protecting Japan’s social order? This event is an opportunity to reflect upon these crucial issues.

    Scholars, writers and political analysts have issued a joint statement denouncing police suppression of the September 11 rally. The harsh measures against a peaceful protest may have enormous implications for the future in Japan. Come and hear what the speakers have to say and judge for yourself.

    Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

    Professional Activities Committee
    Posted by Akiko Saikawa on Mon, 2011-09-26 15:37
    ENDS

    ////////////////////////////////

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: “H-Japan Editor, Rikiei Shibasaki”
    Date: September 26, 2011
    To: H-JAPAN@H-NET.MSU.EDU
    Subject: H-Japan (E): 60,000 in Sayonara Genpatsu Demo in Tokyo; a politics of survival; women looking out for their, and Japan’s, children…
    Reply-To: H-NET/KIAPS List for Japanese History

    H-Japan
    September 26, 2011

    Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011
    From: “David H. Slater”

    Although it was obscured by typhoon 15 (does it never end here in Japan?),
    more than 60,000 people marched through Tokyo in the “Sayonara Genpatsu”
    Demonstration on Sept. 19th before the rains came.

    Here is a video that captures the scene and some of the speakers, who
    included Oe Kenzaburo, Yamamoto Taro, Sakamoto Ryuichi, and a moving Mutou
    Ruiko (if you watch until the end of the clip).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Q5cRWpQaU
    And a short English clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzT-t4qguYA
    And a collection of pictures from a photo journalist:
    http://blog.uchujin.co.uk/2011/09/anti-nuclear-protest-tokyo-19th-september-2011/

    Here is an English article
    http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110919/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_anti_nuclear_protest
    (Notice how Yahoo categorizes this: as “old news” [reproduced below])

    There was some of the same sort of “precarity” matsuri atmosphere, but with
    a wider age range of marchers, including the older people and young families
    we saw earlier in the summer were there also; more walking, less dancing,
    and more smaller conversations going on, too. Also, in the area where I was
    standing, many unions were there.

    The discourse that has long been in the alternative media and activist
    movements is now increasingly in the mainstream media and popular
    understandings, and can seen everywhere: de-politicization. This story, as
    rendered in both the mainstream press and in activist statements, town
    meetings and causal conversation, begins with the a political failure–of
    the Japanese government to provide reliable information and support. The
    government’s political failure leads to ‘non-political’ alternatives taken
    by ‘non-political’ citizens.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6gCDG-BE2M&feature=player_embedded

    As things were breaking up, I asked one man why he had come. He said that he
    was not a very politically active man, but thought that this was important.
    A woman, apparently his wife, jumped in to explain, “This is not political.
    We are here as part of common sense. As a mother, we have to think about
    what to feed our children and where to live, especially if
    the government won’t give us the reliable information. It is
    our responsibility to figure out how the children will live, how to
    survive.” Many if not most of the speakers call upon this discourse in some
    form. The word “kodomo” (child) is often used in signs and posters

    A politics of survival? A discourse that recasts the most political issue of
    3.11 as something not political, outside of the political, more fundamental
    and more relevant than politics? Of course, there it is nothing new in Japan
    to label somethings “political” and others not. As in other countries,
    “political’ here means cynical, self-serving, the opposite of civic-minded.
    No one wants to be called “political.” Rather, people want to identify their
    cause as of ‘economic necessity’ or a ‘national priority’ or best of all,
    ‘common sense.’

    What is somewhat different is that now, the spokesman for this discourse
    is, well, not a man at all. The image of a woman with her children, doing
    the one thing that is the most mainstream (conservative?) socially
    sanctioned, culturally valued and politically prioritized (if economically,
    still a challenge to many) to women in today’s Japan: protecting her
    children and the future of Japan. While this rendering of a woman’s role as
    mother in a family (rather than in the workplace or community), its identity
    with the state’s priority can also make it a powerful alternative voice,
    against the state’s support of nuclear power via the danger of
    radiated vegetables.

    In the spring and early summer, when mothers marched against the power
    plants, it got large press, for example:
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?mode=getarticle&file=nn20110709f2.html
    And when mothers speak out today, their voices are far more valued than
    those precarious part-time workers who we let clean up the mess in the power
    plants. These woman’s voices are much more often amplified in our press
    coverage than the other population in Japan’s core constituency at risk:
    farmers. (Is it that we imagine the mothers to be our middle-class futures
    while the farmers to be a dying hold-over from an agrarian past? Good link
    on Cows and Farmers protesting in Tokyo here:
    http://www.culanth.org/?q=node/417)

    Why the failure to get townships relief and aid is not the primary political
    issue today is another question…

    David H. Slater, Ph.D.
    Faculty of Liberal Arts
    Sophia University, Tokyo

    ————————-End H-Japan Message————————

    Thousands march against nuclear power in Tokyo

    AP
    Protesters in costume perform during the anti-nuclear demonstration  in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Chanting "Sayonara nuclear power" and wa
    AP – Protesters in costume perform during the anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Sept. 19, …
    By MALCOLM FOSTER, Associated Press – Mon Sep 19, 11:28 am ET

    TOKYO – Chanting “Sayonara nuclear power” and waving banners, tens of thousands of people marched in central Tokyo on Monday to call on Japan’s government to abandon atomic energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

    The demonstration underscores how deeply a Japanese public long accustomed to nuclear power has been affected by the March 11 crisis, when a tsunami caused core meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex.

    The disaster — the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl — saw radiation spewed across a wide part of northeastern Japan, forcing the evacuation of some 100,000 people who lived near the plant and raising fears of contamination in everything from fruit and vegetables to fish and water.

    “Radiation is scary,” said Nami Noji, a 43-year-old mother who came to the protest on this national holiday with her four children, ages 8-14. “There’s a lot of uncertainty about the safety of food, and I want the future to be safe for my kids.”

    Police estimated the crowd at 20,000 people, while organizers said there were three times that many people.

    In addition to fears of radiation, the Japanese public and corporate world have had to put up with electricity shortages amid the sweltering summer heat after more than 30 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors were idled over the summer to undergo inspections.

    Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who took office earlier this month, has said Japan will restart reactors that clear safety checks. But he has also said the country should reduce its reliance on atomic energy over the long-term and explore alternative sources of energy. He has not spelled out any specific goals.

    Before the disaster, this earthquake-prone country derived 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Yet Japan is also a resource-poor nation, making it a difficult, time-consuming process for it to come up with viable alternative forms of energy.

    Mari Joh, a 64-year-old woman who traveled from Hitachi city to collect signatures for a petition to shut down the Tokai Dai-ni nuclear plant not far from her home, acknowledged that shifting the country’s energy sources could take 20 years.

    “But if the government doesn’t act decisively now to set a new course, we’ll just continue with the status quo,” she said Monday. “I want to use natural energy, like solar, wind and biomass.”

    Before the march, the protesters gathered in Meiji Park to hear speakers address the crowd, including one woman from Fukushima prefecture, Reiko Muto, who described herself as a “hibakusha,” an emotionally laden term for survivors of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Those evacuated from around the plant remain uncertain about when, if ever, they will be able to return to their homes.

    An AP-GfK poll showed that 55 percent of Japanese want to reduce the number of nuclear reactors in the country, while 35 percent would like to leave the number about the same. Four percent want an increase while 3 percent want to eliminate them entirely.

    The poll, which surveyed 1,000 adults between July 29 and Aug. 10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

    Author Kenzaburo Oe, who won the Nobel literature prize in 1994 and has campaigned for pacifist and anti-nuclear causes, also addressed the crowd. He and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who composed the score to the movie “The Last Emperor,” were among the event’s supporters.

    ENDS

    22 Responses to “Allegations of more rough stuff from Rightist Zaitokukai against anti-nuclear demos, yet anti-nuclear demonstrators get arrested”

    1. Rachel Says:

      If we’re to be honest here, “democracy” as understood in Western societies is relatively recent in Japan and it was imported rather than earned… it stands to reason there will be setbacks. What’s saddening is that there seem to be many Japanese who’d rather be bystanders than fight for their rights. If this (i.e. baseless arrests, police brutality) had happened in a Western country I’m sure many people would have protested against it…

    2. Kimpatsu Says:

      Are the Japanese police trying to silence political dissent through a systematic campaign of intimidation against the young in particular?

      Yes. Psychological testing of the police, not just in Japan but elsewhere too, reveals that there is a universal belief among police officers that all protest, no matter how peaceful, is de facto illegal, which explains the over-reactions.Until this psychological issue is addressed, the problem will continue.

      – Link to source please.

    3. Justin Says:

      You know I think after visiting Debito.org for over the last three or four years… I think every country has the same issues. A lot of the issues I see on debito.org aren’t exclusive to japan… maybe with a Japanese flavor but this stuff happens all the time in western societies and no one stands up or not enough do. I no longer see what is going on in Japan, Sweden or the U.S. as unique. It’s a humanity as a whole that’s doing this stuff. Pick any country and follow it’s politics and you start seeing similarity’s.

      – Your point being? That the problems should not be discussed and addressed because they’re universal?

    4. Icarus Says:

      Rachel, you can stop with the comparisons to Western countries. There are OBVIOUS problems with the Japanese police approach to this demonstration, but the same thing happens ALL the time in Western countries.

      All you have to do is look at the recent incident in New York in which a senior police official was running around pepper spraying protestors without cause as other officers barricaded and threw down others for doing nothing:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/nyregion/a-burst-of-pepper-spray-like-a-punch-in-the-face.html?ref=newyorkcitypolicedepartment

      Just like in most Western countries, the Japanese were much more politically active in the 60s and 70s. But as with most citizens in Western countries, they gave up political activism for commercial comforts.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UgMYpp-_UM&feature=related

    5. Nick Says:

      The Zaitokukai (full name: Zainichi tokken wo yurusanai shimin no kai) is strongly opposed to the special permanent resident status given to Koreans. They are highly xenophobic and would probably be happy to see us all leave Japan. The head of the group is Sakurai Makoto whose nickname is Donronpa. I read his homepage and found it full of hate towards non Japanese. He refers to China as “shina” which is considered offensive to all Chinese people. He says that 90 percent of pachinko establishments are owned by Koreans and that the aim of pachinko proprietors is to not only make money to send to Korea but also to weaken Japan by creating millions of pachinko addicts! I learned that Sakurai also heads a group called Genpatsu no hi wo kesasenai kokumin kaigi. The group states that foreigners in favor of halting nuclear power plants are aiming to weaken Japan and must be strongly resisted. Sakurai appears to act like a cult leader and I feel that perhaps many of his followers are victims of mind control (=are brain washed). The violent language used in the video clips provided here is illegal. The “mite minu furi” (=pretend not to hear) attitude of of the police towards their violence is infuriating. It is the taxes of the peace-loving 99 percent of people living here that pay the salaries of the police. The fact that none of them opposed the zaitokukai or the
      related genpatsu no hi wo kesasenai kokumin kaigai (probably made of of the same members) seems to indicate a fear of upsetting the right wing, and possibly, sympathy with them and their goals.

    6. another jon Says:

      “An AP-GfK poll showed that 55 percent of Japanese want to reduce the number of nuclear reactors in the country, while 35 percent would like to leave the number about the same. Four percent want an increase while 3 percent want to eliminate them entirely.”

      I m really disappointed by these figures if they are accurate; they show the inherent conservatism of the Japanese. Even after a major disaster the majority just want to reduce the number of reactors or keep it the same; the “No Nukes” lobby is portrayed as a tiny minority of 3%.

      Contrast this with Germany`s recent move to get rid of all their reactors and one starts to see a shockingly different mindset. Or even one so used to disasters that it had become blase to change.

      A western cliche is that the Japanese “live at harmony with nature” but I dont see this at all, if the figures of this poll are at representative.

    7. Alasdair Says:

      Is it any wonder that relatively few tourists come to Japan? When I see this kind of thing, I wish no one would come. I’ll be spreading this video as far and wide as I can. Outside pressure might be Japan’s only hope.

    8. boon Says:

      “A western cliche”

      there are many western cliches and generalizations about Japan that misrepresent. I think many Japanese want to keep it this way, keep their laundry clean for all the world to see. “the cove” did some good exposing as does this site, but its quickly discredited. Ive often wondered about those NJ who are so eager to discredit, what is motivating them?

      – Let’s get back to the point of this blog entry.

    9. Rachel Says:

      Icarus,
      I wasn’t going for a side-by-side comparison of Eastern and Western societies. I was just trying to point out that some (if not many) Japanese may have a different opinion on what Westerners think of as normal rights we’ve fought for and earned. Just Google “protests against police brutality europe” and you should see a bunch of reports from all around the continent. I can’t speak for the situation in the US since I haven’t been there in more than a decade.
      Also, Debito’s reply to the post above yours is what I’d also like to say in reply to your saying that this stuff is universal.
      Sorry for off-topic, I won’t be going on further tangents in this thread.

      – No no, you related it back to Japan, thanks. And the “relativist/universalist” approach to human rights (e.g., “it happens everywhere so who cares”, “aren’t there bigger topics to be concerned about” etc.) are within the domain of this blog entry.

    10. vox Says:

      It’s not a question of the cops protecting one group over the other.

      At 20 seconds into the video, the frenchman takes a swing at the cop.

      Up until that point, the incident was fairly simple: two opposing groups protesting, and the police maintaining a barrier separating the two groups to keep things from sliding into mayhem. Two people broke through the barrier to confront the other group.

      Under normal circumstances, the police will just push you back out of the barrier zone into your group. In my experience, the J-cops actually pretty polite about it.

      Unless you start to be aggressive. If you push, they will push back to get you out of the area. But if you throw a punch at a cop, you’re going to lockup.

      That’s one of those “universal truth” kind of things.

      – You must be watching something different. I see no punch thrown. And how do you know they “broke through the barrier to confront the other group”? That’s not apparent from the video. And an incitement to violence was clearly being made by “the other group”, but I guess that doesn’t matter through your lenses.

    11. vox Says:

      Alright Debito, here’s some more context.

      Here’s a video taken from beside the right wing protesters:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o_pi8w94HI

      (be warned: turn your speakers way down. especially if you’re at work.)

      The cops have a complete barrier around them, and they’ve got them set well back from the street. You can see the cops guarding the main protest in the background at several points in the video. The middle ground looks to be nothing but journalists and cops and the occasional straggler.

      At 4:50, there’s a scuffle in which several right wingers break out of their holding pen. Watching the whole thing, I note at least three being taken away by the cops. One holding a rising sun flag is escorted directly in front of the camera.

      At the 6 minute mark, someone gets right up close to the right wingers with middle fingers extended, shouting at the crew in their pen. The cops push him away a couple of times, but nothing more seems to come of it.

      In part 2 of the video, you get another view of the french protester takedown. It’s a bit more distant, and the shot is kind of blocked, but you can see him taking a punch (or at least moving his arm forward very quickly and forcefully) at the 1:28 mark.

      Through my lenses (as you put it), I see the cops trying to keep two groups from tearing each other apart. Especially at the 4:50 mark noted above. I see the cops overlooking a few arrestable offenses on both sides in those two videos, because the alternative would be mayhem.

      – Agreed on the potential mayhem. Also on the police keeping the two groups apart. But why didn’t you give us this as evidence for your claims in the first place? I know: Because you wanted to set a “discovery trap”.

      Didn’t work. Based upon viewing this evidence, and this is my reconfirmed opinion, I see the police ultimately treating the (small but obnoxiously noisy, and less peaceful in tone and action) group of right-wingers with more kid gloves than the anti-nuclear demonstrators (given that the right-wingers are “taken away” as you put it, but clearly not wrestled to the ground and arrested).

      I also still see no putative punch thrown by the arrested anti-nuclear demonstrator in either video (that’s your original assertion, and doubly so now based on your “lenses”). You also keep ignoring the unpeaceful and inciting language used by the right-wingers.

      None of the evidence here contradicts what was originally said in this blog entry. And none of it contradicts the evidence I’ve given in the past (see links) of the Japanese police having a history of overlooking rightist abusive behavior towards leftists or demonstrators in general. (Again, see movie YASUKUNI.)

      You want to counterargue with a positive predisposition towards the police, I understand. But give your evidence when you make your assertions, not afterwards. Might help if it actually backs them up, too.

    12. Jim Di Griz Says:

      It’s the way the nationalists in the video are screaming over the speakers for the cops to ‘shoot them and kill them’ that annoys me.

    13. Colin Says:

      Japan has become a police state also. In other democratic countries the police can arrest you, abuse you, and frame you too. Nothing new. This video doesn`t surprise me. Sad, but if more people don`t stand up and demand civil treatment then this kind of behaviour will continue without any discipline or care and concern from the scheming elitists. People are slowly catching on in Japan but it only seems to be about nuclear issues. Despite the potential severity of a nuclear problem other issues ie. good jobs, freedom, trustworthy representation, racism etc. etc. are completely ignored yet more important.

    14. boon Says:

      I see no punch thrown. I hear radicals yelling at the two then cops reacting or over reacting, and freak is cheering them on. Seems this Vox is another blind japan can do no wrong groupie.

    15. shinrin Says:

      The impact of the Fukushima disaster has provoked little change in Japanese public opinion, regarding Nuclear Energy.
      The main beneficiaries of the Japanese disaster were the Germans…They have mobilized the public opinion and a phase out, for Nuclear plants, is now in sight.
      The above mentioned demonstrations are, numerically, not significant.
      As long as BBC and CNN are not reporting on these issues, things will not move…Japanese politicians are likely to react to BBC and CNN, much more than to NHK or any other Japanese TV.

    16. Loverilakkuma Says:

      I don’t disagree with the idea that social injustice led by state/national control over civilians is becoming a universal trend in democratic nations worldwide. Indeed, I can see some similarities in public problems between Japan and othe democratic foreign countries–i.e., US, Canada, UK, Greece, France, Germany, etc. However, I see a very clear difference when I contrast Japan with other countries. What I see in people from these countries is commitment and willingness to engage in civic discourse. They use universal/cultural approach as the means to confront the state authority to challenge social injustices–rather than the choice for disengagement by becoming an innocent bystander. It’s ironic to see some people who attempt to downplay this incident by piquing Japan’s cultural uniqueness are indeed suggesting the similarity with the public problem in the US–a.k.a Robert Putnam’s vision of civic society (a decline thesis on democratic citizenship due to the collapse of social capital). But, contrary to many western academic scholars, activists and journalists, it’s quite unlikely that many Japanese scientists and scholarly authorities are willing to look into Japan’s Bowling Alone– or the eclispe of citizenship.

      – Can’t quite understand the last sentence. Please unpack more.

    17. Loverilakkuma Says:

      Debito

      It’s mainly about people’s attitudes and perceptions on civic engagement. The reason I mention such a fancy term like ‘Bowling Alone’– the title of Robert Putnum’s book–, is because many people in Japan seem to be disconnected or disengaged from democratic society as long as their security and comfort are guaranteed by the state. I’ve seen this tendency in Japan for many years–people turning away from the signs of crisis or civil rights struggle. Of course, there are some exceptions like Fukushima, anti-finger printing campaign, etc. Yet, many Japanese people still make their choices for stability in general possibly because they don’t have moral obligations to challenge the state/local authority by sacrificing their personal needs and interests–unless their stakes are in danger.

      But, I dunno. Putnum’s study has both pros and cons. Some researchers disagree with him over his analysis on what constitutes engagement. And he overlooks the shifts in historical/political contexts that brought a significant change in understanding democracy (progressive era, for example). Anyway, what is clear to me is that people’s attitudes and perceptions on civic engagement are contingent upon the status of social capital. That’s all I can say so far.

      It makes more sense when it comes to the attitudes and perceptions in academic context.
      When you turn your eyes to the social/political climate of Japan studies in general, I think you will be aware of the problem–an unchanging trend among many Japanese social scientist scholars/elites who defend the facade of cultural exotica or uniqueness while ignoring the real problems ocurring in its society today. This just sounds like Putnamic tendency in general attitude/perception–and Orewillian conspiracy in creating a schism in both academic/public spheres we see now today.

      I hope the point is clear.Let me know if you still have questions.

      – Thanks for clarifying.

    18. Bob Says:

      Rachel:
      I totally have a problem with Japan’s police force and its treatment of foreigners. However, when you make it about “Japan’s democracy is having setbacks since it was imported not earned”, which sounds a lot like “Japanese democracy is a sham because Japanese people are robots/other stereotype” or “Japan is so different; why are they so backwards”, it distracts from the actual problem, which is police xenophobia and brutality in Japan.

      The idea that Japan is an undemocratic nation of drones is as old as the hills and stinks like it too. During the DPJ landslide election victory, people were talking politics in the local vegetable store, everywhere (personal experience and anecdotal). They also had a voter participation rate of 69.27% in 2009. (Source: http://www.idea.int/vt/country_view.cfm?CountryCode=JP). Their participation rate in national elections in recent years ranges from 59 to 69%, though it was even higher in the past.

      In the US, it is often much lower, but similar in presidential years: http://www.idea.int/vt/country_view.cfm?id=231
      The US rate tends to be at its zenith in presidential election years, like Japan in the 60’s generally recently but higher in the past. In other elections (think Japan’s upper house elections), the rate is from 40-47% the last few times in the US.

      – Your point about higher voter rates is taken, but please relate it back to democracy in Japan. Surely voter turnout rates aren’t the only measure.

    19. Rachel Says:

      Bob,
      I did not, at any point, imply that “Japanese democracy is a sham” or that the Japanese people are “robots” or any other stereotype, nor did I call them “backwards”. Comparing/contrasting doesn’t always have to involve a judgement of right or wrong. If that’s what you understood from my previous comments, then I’m sorry, but that’s not at all what I meant to say.
      I did say that there seems to be a lot of apathy towards this kind of incidents, and I stand by that. A large voter turnout doesn’t mean much if the involvement of most citizens stops at that.

    20. flyjin Says:

      Bob says “The idea that Japan is an undemocratic nation of drones is as old as the hills” and that its an outdated stereotype.

      However, it is a stereotype that is nurtured and cherished in Japan, by the Japanese Right-clinging to an outdated past as long as they can. Relating this conversation back to the original thread, what struck me immediately was what the rightists in the video were shouting- that is was, by implication, a criminal offence just to demonstrate or protest anything at all that is even vaguely anti-establishment. (As these rightists seem to therefore think that TEPCO is the establishment or the keeper of the greatness of Japan is incredulous, and I conclude they may be in the pay of someone, but I digress).

      I dont think even the British BNP or French right would say this, as they too are anti-(liberal) establishment, and therefore demonstrating against it. The right in Japan are basically supporting an establishment and therefore conservative right-wing, agenda.

      I ll just quote old school rightist Yukio Mishima (ie. a nationalist who wanted to win the respect of the west, whereas todays J-thugs are anti-white, black, ie. racist rightists). For his play and film “Patriotism” on the Feb 26th 1936 Officers Uprising he just wanted “A robot, someone who sacrifices himself to the nationalist cause” and that is why the actor who plays the lead role has his face obscured by his army cap, “Like a Noh Mask”. Source, J Nathan “Mishima, a Biography”.

      I am not saying this is exclusive to Japan, although this country lacks a tradition of Thoreau style civil disobedience (that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence) and 50 years of LDP rule emphasizing the reverse “Individual duty to the state” has had an effect, obviously. Since the end of the 1920s, most leftist grassroots movements have been nipped in the bud or gains imposed have been rolled back since 1955.

      Time Magazine did an interesting feature on the Yugoslav wars and nationalism at the time, the psychology of weak individuals is to submerge themselves in a (nationalist) group, shouting slogans like “All Lives to the Fatherland”. Tough, but only in a group.

      – Well written. Thanks for this.

    21. Charuzu Says:

      To offer a slightly different perspective:

      “An AP-GfK poll showed that 55 percent of Japanese want to reduce the number of nuclear reactors in the country, while 35 percent would like to leave the number about the same. Four percent want an increase while 3 percent want to eliminate them entirely.”

      Might this poll show Japanese concerns about energy sources other than nuclear power?

      In other words, perhaps Japanese are simply concerned about the non-nuclear sources of energy, and thus, in comparison, concerns about nuclear are not so high.

      Indeed, if one wishes to discuss Japanese energy policy, one must discuss not only what one does not like (dirty nuclear fission, dirty hydrocarbons, etc.) but also what hard choices one is prepared to make.

      It is rather easy to condemn any and all the leading sources of energy in Japan for their environmental and health effects.

      Yet, there are no major energy sources available that do not involve significant economic restructuring that do not suffer from such bad effects.

    22. bill Says:

      If voter turnout is your only measure, then Japan may be a sterling example of a healthy, vibrant democracy. If, on the other hand, you think varied and widespread participation in the democratic process at the grassroots is key, and that monied, corporate interests shouldn’t significantly influence public policy, then both Japan and the U.S. respectively clearly qualify as sham democracies.

      – Bud nip: Let’s not get into a comparison of who’s “more democratic than thou” any further here. That’s not the point of this blog entry.

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