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 here, here, here, 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
Karin Amamiya , Author
Kojin Karatani, Philosopher
Eiji Oguma, Keio University Assistant Professor
Satoshi Ukai , Hitotsubashi University Professor
The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation
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
Begin forwarded message:
From: “H-Japan Editor, Rikiei Shibasaki”
Date: September 26, 2011
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
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).
And a short English clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzT-t4qguYA
And a collection of pictures from a photo journalist:
Here is an English article
(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.
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,
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
In the spring and early summer, when mothers marched against the power
plants, it got large press, for example:
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:
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
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.